HENLEY BULLS suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Richmond Vikings whose heavier pack and powerful back-line proved too much to handle at Dry Leas on Saturday.
Losing captain James Bloxham through injury prior to the break was a big blow for the hosts. Bloxham had done well to control possession at the base of a retreating scrum during the first half and assisted by his back row colleagues Chris Emmett and Barty Carson had racked up an enormous tackle count in an attempt to stem the onslaught from the Vikings.
Lock Connor Stapley was also forced off at half-time through injury.
The Bulls conceded five first half tries and six in the second period.
The opening 10 minutes showed signs that the game might be a more evenly balanced match as the Bulls pressed into Richmond territory with momentum but came away empty handed.
Richmond seemed to make every visit to the opposition’s territory count following the opening score when the Bulls miscommunicated in defence and an interception resulted in a try.
There were positives to take from the game in terms of the line-out performance of Tom McGregor who managed to turn several of the Vikings throws into Bulls counterattacks and won the vast majority of his own ball.
The two highlights in a disappointing defensive performance from the young Bulls backs came courtesy of Guy Swadling, whose change of pace broke the Richmond line and deftly fed Adam Lubbock on a run inside the fly-half to score under the posts. Secondly a much more direct try was scored by the blind-side flanker Barty Carson who was driven over the line by his supporting pack after Warren Higgins had smashed his way up to the Richmond line through the heavy traffic. Swadling converted one of the two tries.
However, Richmond’s impressive back-line scored nine of their 11 tries in the wide channels where the Bulls looked vulnerable.
Henley Bulls: George Hayes (Peter Browning, 65 mins), Rowan Fuller, Warren Higgins, Connor Stapley (Sam Middelton, 40 mins), Tom McGregor, Barty Carson, Chris Emmett, James Bloxham (Tom Huggins, 37 mins), Mark Bruce (James Gaunt, 60 mins), Guy Swadling, Rory Lillington (James Lambet, 56 mins), Adam Lubbock, Jordan Ethelston, Jack Antoniou (Jack Hill, 60 mins), George Strang.