THE opening 20 minutes of this pre-season encounter was played at a frantic pace with both
THE opening 20 minutes of this pre-season encounter was played at a frantic pace with both sides cancelling out any endeavour to apply pressure with defensive systems proving up to the job in each case.
The deadlock was broken as the Bulls pressed forward into the Blues half with quick tempo but the ball from their half-backs was stifled and turned over.
This resulted in a Blues line-out from which their blind side wing scythed his way through the Bulls defence on half-way and eventually fed his support on an angled run to cross the line. The conversion was successful and opened up a seven point lead.
The Bulls reapplied the pressure from the restart and within five minutes had forced the Blues to infringe on their 10-metre line.
Whereas previous attempts to push for territory had been nullified Stephenson-Wright plumped for the long range place kick and succeeded with distance to spare.
Shortly after, as the teams battled hard for territory, scrum half Liam Eaton spotted the opportunity to break quickly and feed his support down the left flank where Ash Hayden showed electrifying pace to score in the corner from 22 metres out. The try went unconverted.
The last few minutes of the half saw the Blues in the ascendancy and only solid defence from Dave Hankinson and an elusive return carry from Stef Jones relieved the pressure.
An offside decision compounded a knock-on from the Bulls and the resulting penalty was landed by the Blues from close range to take them in to half-time 10-8 up.
Despite the Bulls showing a little more flair and dynamism in attack they creaked under the pressure at scrum time throughout the second half and enjoyed less success on their own line-out ball allowing the Blues a better platform to attack.
As the Bulls’ early vigour waned the Blues regained the lead after finding a rare gap in the Bulls’ tight defence around the fringe of the breakdown to score the converted try that proved to be the winner.
A late neck injury to young Bulls hooker Charlie Sichel, whose contribution impressed, brought this entertaining match to an end.
Henley Bulls: James Hadfield (Mike Menos 40), Charlie Sichel, Sam Beckett, Matt Thomas (Charlie Davey 20), Iwan Davies, George Lane (Keanu Brouard 58), Scott White (Joe Nunn 70), Marcus Lowe, Liam Eaton (Guy Rawsthorne 50), Jimmy Stephenson-Wright, Stef Jones, Dave Hankinson, Andrew Bailey, Ash Hayden (Ainsley Campbell 65), Ross Lewis.