HENLEY BULLS crashed out of the Oxfordshire Cup at the quarter-final stage last Sunday away to local rivals Chinnor, writes Noel Armstead.
Earlier in the season Chinnor had defeated the Bulls in a Zoo Shield fixture.
Straight from kick-off the Chinnor pack were determined to show who was going to boss the loose play. The Bulls forwards were soon drawn into skirmishes which led them to being thrown out of gear and soon they were engaged to such an extent that Chinnor were able to give their strong running backs a chance to run in from 40 metres out, shrugging off some ineffective tackling to score an unconverted try.
At his stage of the game the Bulls struggled to get any worthwhile possession and this was particularly true in the line-outs. However, they did get back into the game when scrum half Luke Carter, who was the player that gave the Bulls some shape in their game with his service and control, gave wing Ryan Sheehan the opportunity to touch down after a shrewd kick ahead.
Despite giving away a simple penalty from in front of the posts which had given Chinnor an 8-5 lead, the Bulls forwards were now competing more effectively and they took the lead when they made the most of a home error in a line-out on halfway which gave number eight Ed Stembridge the opportunity to break away and outpace a stunned Chinnor defence to score half way out. A good conversion by Liam O’Neill, playing in the unfamiliar position of fly half, put the Bulls into a 12-8 lead.
Chinnor were now on the back foot and it seemed that the Bulls were going into a commanding lead at half-time when Carter made a telling break which was supported by centre Simon Perry, playing his first game of the season after injury, who ditched a scoring pass with the home defence absent. The second half featured a resurgent Bulls pack controlling the set scrums driving the Chinnor pack back frequently and in one occasion off the ball completely. This was nullified when the Chinnor backs again ran through the Bulls’ defence to score under the posts which with a simple conversion made the score 15-12. Henley came back and after rucking and driving well down the left caught the Chinnor defence awry and their best handling of the game gave centre Perry the chance to redeem himself and race away to score a try which, with a penalty by Carter, made the score 20-20.
However, the visitors then lost concentration once again let in the Chinnor backs for a try and a late penalty.
Henley Bulls: 15 Luke Rosier (Matt Boyce, 74 mins), 14 Ryan Sheehan, 13 Neil Baggett, 12 Simon Parry, 11 Seb Moseley, 10 Liam O’Neill, 9 Luke Carter, 1 Dave Manning, 2 Alec Penny, 3 Hugo Milford Scott, 4 Andy Downing, 5 Will Woodward, 6 Ben Ashmore (Dave Wells, 64 mins), 7 Chris Emmett, 8 Ed Stembridge (Rupert Crossland, 50 mins).
Henley U14s in 11 try blitz to win Cup Quarter Final 7-65
Henley U14s played their Oxfordshire Cup Quarter Final at a frozen Chipping Norton on Sunday, winning 7-65. Two early tries by Byron Langley and Charlie Sheppard settled the nerves only for Chipping Norton to score from a penalty as Henley failed to tackle. Henley quickly regained their momentum, with two tries each from Ollie Cassells and Max Ainsworth giving a half time lead of 7-36.
Some good moves from all the players caused Chipping Norton problems in every area of the pitch. Second half tries from Iwan Macrae, Harry Derbyshire (2), Max Ainsworth and Byron Langley reinforced Henley’s total domination of this fixture, and showed their ability to score tries using both forwards and backs. Final score Chipping Norton 7 Henley 65. Henley now face a Semi-Final derby with Wallingford in the new year.
Man of the match was Charlie Stott, whose half-breaks and teasing runs from the Scrum Half position harried Chipping Norton all game, creating try scoring opportunities for others.