Monday, 16 December 2019

Normans conquer in Zoo Shield encounter

HENLEY BULLS, back in action after three weeks without a fixture, lost out at home to Richmond Normans in their Zoo League clash at Dry Leas on Saturday.

The game started with the Bulls on the back foot as the Normans started brightly, using their size in the forwards to grind down the hosts.

A penalty allowed the Normans to kick into the corner for a line-out 10 meters out. A catch at the front allowed the Normans to set up a drive and use their size advantage to rumble over.

The Bulls hit back when captain Scott White won a tackle and the ball was charged down from Connor Morrison to give the home side an attacking scrum. However, Morrison caught the kicker’s foot as well which led to him leaving the pitch to receive treatment for his injury. Replacement Will Janes gave a delayed pass to allow George Griffiths to use his footwork and dance his way over.

The Normans had a scrum 10 meters out, their number eight then threw a dummy before linking up with the scrum half who darted over. With their tails up, the Normans came straight back on the attack with some strong carries and it wasn’t long before the Bulls were pulled out of defensive positions and the Normans scored again.

The Bulls were clearly rattled by the Normans power play and were giving penalties away cheaply which were allowing the Normans to have all the territory and possession.

Although the Bulls scrum was strong, they could not stop the driving maul, which led to the Normans’ next score. However the remaining 10 minutes of the half was all Bulls, playing on the front foot and attacking the spaces by fly half Charlie Wicks.

Some good hands and a clever kick from scrum half Elliot McPhunn saw Griffiths stumble over the line only to be judged to have been held up. A scrum saw Henry Penrose, Stobbs and Deacon dominating the front row battle to put the forwards on the front foot, and good carries from Liam Goodison and Henry Day led to Morrison crashing over to take the score to 12-26 at half time.

The second half kicked off with the Bulls looking to kick on, but it was Normans that capitalised on a mistake to kick into the corner and drive over. The introduction of 18-year-old Morgan MacRae brought new energy to the Bulls and some bulldozing runs saw them get back on the front foot and it wasn’t long before MacRae crashed over to give the Bulls hope.

The Normans responded straight away but a cover tackle by Adam Porter, making his debut, stopped a certain try. However, the pressure soon told and a couple of missed tackles allowed a try.

Henley Bulls hit back with the try of the game, a burst from MacRae allowed the ball to move across the field where Porter made a half break before passing to Day in support who galloped up the field and found Huw Evans, who drew the last man and passed to Porter to dive over in the corner.

The Bulls were now full of confidence and Wicks was pulling the strings but it was the final pass that was letting them down.

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