Monday, 14 October 2019

Numerical advantage takes its toll as Bulls are overrun

HENLEY BULLS, who travelled to Taunton with 16 players, lost out in their latest Zoo Shield clash last Saturday after injuries ultimately took their toll on the visitors.

The visitors were playing into a stiff wind in the first half and straight from kick off the Bulls showed their intent to attack, playing with pace and power.

The Bulls were breaking the tackle and getting their arms free to get the off load away. Scrum half Elliot McPhunn made the first clean break of the game and took play to within five meters of the line but the ball fumbled out of the ruck and Taunton were able to clear their lines.

The Bulls came storming back as the ball was moved out wide to Loick Bazzi who made a break to the Taunton 22. The ball was then moved swiftly across the pitch which allowed Murray Bellis to score in the corner.

Toby Warbuton was the first casualty for the Bulls and Archie Van Dijk, playing at 10 and controlling the game, brought the forwards into the game as Elliot Deacon, Zack Clarke, and Henry Penrose were all making dents in the defence.

A break from Bellis found Connor Morrison on his shoulder and the ball was moved crisply to allow Harry Ryan to dive over in the corner.

The Bulls were full of confidence and were looking to move the ball through the hands as Samir Khabouch, Jake Lovatt and Henry Day were all making the hard yards. The Taunton defence was holding strong and forcing the Bulls to make off loads which led to the ball spilling.

Then came a game changing moment as a huge tackle from Penrose smashed the Taunton lock back but he hit his head and had to be withdrawn, leaving the Bulls with 14 players.

This was the first time that Taunton were able to enjoy some possession and territory but they found a stern line led by Harry Jackson, Morrison, Deacon and Khabouch.

Taunton were camped in the Bulls 22 for 10 minutes until they managed to break though the line and score in the corner. During this time the Bulls lost the lively McPhunn with a dislocated finger, leaving them with 13 players to start the second half but 10-5 ahead.

The pace and intensity of the game did not ease up in the second half as tackles were flying in from both sides who were struggling to find ways through the defences.

After 50 minutes a missed tackle allowed Taunton to score in the corner to equal the score. Although being two men down the Bulls were still looking to spread the ball wide and find holes for the dangerous Conan Osbourne and Loick Bazzi to attack.

The forwards were all working so hard in defence and attacking, carrying the ball with venom, but another injury after 60 minutes saw the player advantage tell as the tiring Bulls were not able to cover the ground and holes were appearing for Taunton to run through.

There were good cover tackles from Morrison, Jackson and Ryan but Taunton were able to recycle the ball and score five late tries.

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