Monday, 20 January 2020
HENLEY BULLS kicked off 2020 with a narrow defeat in a close hard fought game at Zoo Shield league leaders Bournemouth 2nds last Saturday.
The Bulls, who had just 15 players in their squad, started brightly, making inroads though powerful carries from debutant centre Isa Mohammed and captain Liam Goodison while scrum half Ben Venner was bossing the play around keeping Bournemouth on the back foot. The pressure soon turned into points when good composure from the forwards allowed centre Jimmy Wright to score under the posts.
From the restart a dropped ball allowed Bournemouth to get their hands on the ball and test the Bulls defence. Tom Grenfell, Jake Lovatt, Venner and Goodison were leading the defensive effort with some huge tackles but it was a driving line-out that provided Bournemouth with their first score.
From the kick off, a missed tackle allowed Bournemouth to break back in to the Bulls half, which allowed them another scoring chance, only to be held up by a cover tackle from Adam Porter, backed up by Wright.
Ill discipline allowed Bournemouth to kick into the corner and score from the resulting driving line-out. The Bulls came bouncing back with strong carries from props George Probyn and Henry Penrose, allowing Venner to dart away from the ruck to give an offload to Wright, who stepped his way over to score under the posts. After all the hard work to retake the lead, some soft tackling allowed Bournemouth to score under the posts to take a 17-14 lead into half-time.
The Bulls came bouncing out of the blocks in the second half with strong carries from the forwards, putting the defence on the back foot. This led to a penalty in front of the posts which Leo Webb knocked over to level up the scores.
This gave the visitors confidence which saw fly half Guy Rawsthorn put flanker Henry Day in space to make a 40-meter break before kicking the ball forward to give Webb a race to the line, which he just lost, but forced a carry over. From the resulting scrum the Bulls forwards were patient and controlled and this led to Wright crashing over for his hat-trick.
From the restart Rawsthorn, spotting space on the blind side, fed Webb who made a 30-metre break before finding Lovatt on his shoulder. Good forward play produced another penalty to allow Webb to knock over three more points.
The final 20 minutes were played in the Bulls half. Bournemouth kept the ball well and were making the Bulls defend. The pressure told to allow Bournemouth to score out wide.
The Bulls were then dealt a further blow with Venner being sent to the bin for a high tackle. The Bulls’ defence forced Bournemouth out into touch but from the resulting line-out, an over throw straight into the home side’s number eight’s hands saw him drive over to bring the score 29-27 to the hosts with a minute to play. Bournemouth played the final few moments out to claim the win.
13 January 2020
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