Saturday, 20 August 2022

Romans fail to conquer as Bulls power on

TOMMY Haynes starred in this Thames-side show of growing strength from a youthful Bulls side who refused the Romans the space and continuity to leave the Regatta Meadow with anything more than a late consolation try.

The previous weekend Haynes and prop Harry Jackson had missed much of the Bulls’ victorious trip to Orpington with back injuries but in this instance both proved pivotal in allowing the Bulls to build on their success. Jackson’s first half tackle count stifled several forays into Bulls territory with scything tackles matched on occasion by Simon Perry and Will Janes in midfield who swarmed and smothered any wider threat from the Hertfordshire men.

Several early turnovers by Dan Foley at the breakdown gave Perry the chance to smash his way out of the Bulls defence and for Hawkins and Huelin to regain ground through the boot.

Throughout the game Haynes led the attack from the base of the Bulls scrum and the towering Jake O’Leary’s influence on the line-out meant the Bulls got to half-time with a 12-3 lead.

Both Bulls first half tries came as a result of flooding narrow channels with support runners. Mo Bangura brought the ball out of Bulls territory initially and Jimmy Wright burst further upfield and freed Sam Quelch who tore up the left flank where Callum Cooke provided the support to Quelch and Archie Van Dijk slipping under a tackle to score the opener.

This was added to by Van Dijk on 25 minutes as he made use of some quality service from influential scrum half Luke Huelin whose tactical kicking had proved beneficial territorially throughout the first half.

The Romans enjoyed plenty of possession and often forced the Bulls to defend for extended periods where their defence showed little signs of creaking, but over-eagerness to turn the ball over cost them points from the boot of the Romans fly-half.

As the Romans attack began to tire Jimmy Wright and O’Leary changed the point of attack with charging runs through the visitors’ line with Perry and Janes providing a secondary threat.

O’Leary got a well deserved score and a second from Van Dijk who took a weighted pass from Janes to dummy to the wing and cut inside to touch down showed his ability to keep a cool head in the scoring zone. Ed Church joined to action at hooker and carried hard yards in support of Haynes who was providing the go forward from the Bulls scrum where Louie Henson now began to dominate from tight-head. Quelch had an accurate afternoon in kicking from the tee and from hand adding four conversions from five and giving the Bulls the attacking opportunities from the line-out.

A breakaway burst of pace from Dan Hawkins the lively fly-half provided a try that broke the will of the Romans, it seemed at first, but a late surge allowed the consolation try that was the only time the Bulls barrier appeared penetrable.

The result saw the Bulls climb to fifth in the Zoo Shield table.

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