Wednesday, 23 January 2019

O’Neill in fine form as Bulls ease to victory

O’Neill in fine form as Bulls ease to victory

HENLEY BULLS cruised to a comfortable home win against Old Albanian Romans at Dry Leas last Saturday in a match played out in wet, windy and cold conditions.

The visitors started the brighter, applying pressure in the Bulls half which led to them scoring from an early penalty.

This proved to be the only time that the Bulls were in trouble as for the rest of the game the home side’s pack started to lay down their marker.

Ben Venner was moving the Bulls pack around well and allowing them space to find holes in the Romans defence. This led to the Bulls’ first try and George Primmet crashing over. The conditions were making the game stop start and causing the ball to spill out of hand.

The Romans kicked loosely into the middle of the park where they found Liam O’Neill, who caused the visitors’ defence all sorts of problems, and he skipped past a couple of tackles before putting in a fine weighted kick for Matt Mann to collect and score.

O’Neill was full of confidence and made space for Toby Stevens to sprint 50 meters from his own 22 to set the Bulls in another attack. It was another loose kick from the Romans that this time found Archie Van Dijk, who countered attacked and found O’Neill to sprint to within five meters of the line before feeding Mann again to score his second of the afternoon.

Moments later the same combination almost led to Mann scoring his hat-trick but the referee judged him to be in front of the kick.

The Bulls were not quite finished for the half and it was through the forwards, Harry Jackson and captain Andrew Stobbs, who made inroads to the Romans’ 22 and allowed Peter Kerins to throw a dummy and glide in for a try under the posts to put the hosts 22-3 ahead at half-time.

In the second half Venner, who had picked up a wrist injury was replaced by Rowan Fuller, who had just completed 50 minutes for the Vultures in an earlier match.

Straight away the Bulls forwards began to dominate with good carries from Adam Neal, Vlad Dunbrava, John Clarke and Edward Houghton who was making his debut for the Bulls.

The pressure told as it allowed Jimmy Wright, who had moved to the centre, to crash over. The Romans then had a bit of ball in hand and applied pressure to the Bulls, but the defence stood strong and a big clearing box kick from O’Neill, now playing at scrum half, relieved the pressure.

The Bulls lost another player to injury — Neal was replaced by the evergreen Venner, who like Fuller had just completed 30 minutes for the Vultures just before.

The Bulls worked their way up into the Romans 22 through good work by the forwards and steady play allowed space to open up for Wright who crashed over for his second try, O’Neill converted.

After the restart the Bulls came racing back through the forwards again, Henry Penrose putting in big carries, it was almost a carbon copy of the previous try to allow Wright to crash over for his hat-trick, O’Neill adding the extras to round off his impressive contribution to the game.

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