Friday, 22 February 2019

Normans have no answer to Bulls

HENLEY Bulls got revenge for their narrow defeat earlier in the season as they ran out comfortable winners in their first Zoo Sports Shield match of the year last Saturday.

In dry conditions the Bulls started brightly and were straight on the attack as a solid scrum allowed Pete Kerins to pass the ball out to Will Janes, who used his pace to go around the defence and dive in the corner. Kerins added a great conversion from the touch line.

The early score drove the Bulls on as they applied phases to wear the Normans down and this eventually led to them giving away a penalty where the Bulls kicked for a line-out. From the line-out the ball was tapped down from Liam Goodison to the lively Iwan Macrea, who saw a hole in the defence and darted though to score in the corner.

The Bulls were using their forwards — Adam Neal, Elliot Deacon and Andrew Stobbs in particular — to gain yards to move forward and a half a break from Jimmy Wright put the pressure on the Normans’ line and allowed Kerins to crash over.

Soon after came the move of the match, where the restart was caught cleanly by Ed Houghton before the ball was given to the backs. Janes made a break before feeding Archie Van Dijk, who stepped and gave the ball to Matt Mann who finished the move in the corner to put the Bulls 24-0 ahead after 25 minutes.

The next 10 minutes was all played in the Bulls 22, mainly on their five metre line. The Bulls defence stood strong and held the hosts at bay with good tackling from Jake Lovatt, Neal, Stobbs and Goodison, plus some fine counter rucking from Tapua.

A flash point in the match saw Van Dijk red carded for the Bulls and the Normans’ number 12 receive a yellow card. This spurred the Bulls on and they cleared the line and went on the attack as Wright made a break and an off load to Neal saw him crash over to take the score to 31-0 at half time.

Early in the second half Neal made a break through the defence and an off load to Macrea saw him stopped just short of the line. The forwards continued pressure which allowed Macrea to find space and drive over for his second of the day.

The appetite to continue to play with the ball in hand allowed Kerins to find the holes in the Normans defence, which allowed Janes space to go around the outside and then pass the ball inside to Macrea to score his hat-trick.

The Normans hit back and almost scored but were denied by a fine cover tackle from Tom Priestley. The Bulls bounced back with the forwards putting in the hard yards and the backs finding holes to make breaks. This led to a scrum which Goodison picked up and sprinted off and when on the outside of the fullback he scored under the posts.

Straight from the kick off Harry Jackson busted through the tackle and sprinted on upwards towards the try line where a covering tackle stopped him on the 22 metre line. However, a couple of phases later a good piece of footwork saw Jackson score under the posts. The Normans called the game after 65 minutes.

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