Sunday, 24 September 2017

Nutt's late penalty secures bonus point win in see-saw clash for Bulls

HENLEY BULLS collected a third consecutive bonus point victory against a physical Old Elthamians Extra 1sts 15 with a composed display sprinkled with some good tries on Saturday.

The Bulls opened the match with the tempo that has helped bag their recent points haul with Jimmy Stephenson-Wright forcing the pace of the game, only to be caught out by the visitors’ powerful midfield combination making the most of possession from a scrum in their own half, breaking the Bulls defence and flooding in behind their lines to take an early seven point lead.

Centre Martin Nutt answered soon after as the Bulls pushed downfield with an individual break by Harry Burn. Nutt dummied a wide pass to the left flank and side-stepped inside, wrong-footing defenders, and touched down to keep the Bulls in touch.

The Bulls defence remained resolute as the physicality of the visitors threatened again from their solid set-piece platform and the Bulls’ patient approach and good discipline at the breakdown helped in forcing handling errors and a penalty or two that Dave Hankinson used to push the Bulls into a position that he himself would benefit from as Toby Howe laced a pass through to him on the left to dive over to put the Bulls ahead at 12-7. The lead lasted less than three minutes as Old Elthamians’ scrum proved the fulcrum of their success yet again leaving space for their three quarters to walk in and regain the upper-hand at 14-12 at the break.

The score line flipped in favour of the Bulls in the second half when in-form prop George Primett drove through the visitors’ tight defence and managed to shake off the scrambling defence to score a try just right of the posts.

The three point lead proved difficult to hold on to as the exertion of holding the visitors’ attack began to take a toll. James Hadfield and Marcus Lowe added some stability to the Bulls scrum but their discipline began to waver allowing Old Elthamians a foothold enough to force a third try which could have seen them through to a hard earned victory at 19-17 but the Bulls were not done.

A breakout from defence by Scott White and back row partner Jimmy Wright made 30 metres and was turned into quick ball at the ruck which the spritely fly-half Howe then used to dart through the Old Elthamians’ folding defence with the resulting ruck ball ended up in the hands of Harry Burn who squeezed his way in at the right corner for the Bulls’ bonus try to restore the lead at 22-19.

Old Elthamians were immediately awarded a penalty from the restart and land a 30-metre effort to bring them level.

With around three minutes to play the Bulls forced a penalty 40 metres out and at the edge of Howe’s range so up stepped Nutt to drill the ball through the posts restoring the slender lead, 25-22.

The final minutes were played out in heroic fashion with Stephenson-Wright feeding Matt Thomas and Iwan Davies at the forefront, carrying hard and retaining possession long enough for Howe to poke the ball on the whistle.

Henley Bulls: Jamie Woodstock (James Hadfield, 53 mins), Charlie Sichel, George Primett, Matt Thomas, Josh Collis, Jimmy Wright (Marcus Lowe, 53 mins), Scott White, Iwan Davies, James Stephenson-Wright, Toby Howe, Ash Hayden, Dave Hankinson, Martin Nutt, Harry Burn, Luke Govier (Liam Eaton, 63 mins).

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