Thursday, 26 November 2020

Meadow churned up by Bulls

HENLEY BULLS got back to winning ways against Old Albanians 2nds on Saturday.

HENLEY BULLS got back to winning ways against Old Albanians 2nds on Saturday.

The hosts were boosted by the welcome return to action of Christoph Bart and Ed Yarnton following long term injuries and Charlie Nixon who has not played in more than a year.

All three would have welcomed a firmer surface and drier conditions in which to test their fitness but persistent rain had helped to turn the Regatta Meadow into something akin to a tidal mud-flat.

The Bulls hunkered down for the opening 10 minutes whilst the visitors launched a variety of attacking ploys. With captain Neil Baggett’s plea for a disciplined approach to defence the hosts soaked up most of what Old Albanians threw at them until they managed to form a maul and worked themselves over the line. The extra two points were added.

The hosts regained possession from the restart as the chasing Bulls forced errors with the mud-packed ball and for 20 minutes they camped in the visitors’ half.

Chris Emmett made a telling line-break and was supported well by Middleton and Murison who tested the Old Albanians’ defence, carrying deep into their territory.

Despite the poor handling conditions the Bulls scrum-half provided plenty of quick possession for the Henley front-row. Hayes, Higgins and Hadfield to examine the tighter defence and several wider attacks were halted by a magnificent scramble defence by the visitors which eventually resulted in several penalties.

The second half was a battle for possession with the visitors’ second row pairing working hard to ensure the Bulls’ defence was given little rest time.

An attempt by the visitors to run out of their own 22 was met with a crunching tackle by man-of-the-match Baggett who regained his composure to strip the ball from his opponent’s grasp and sprint through to score under the posts giving the Bulls hope at 7-7 when Swadling kicked the conversion.

An impressive performance by Ed Yarnton under the high balls and his profitable kick returns allowed the Bulls time to organise a second half salvo with prop George Hayes displaying his handling ability in supporting several of the attacks.

Three minutes from time Guy Swadling spotted a mismatch and slipped through from 10 metres out carrying one last desperate tackler over the line as he stretched his arms to the full extent to touch the whitewash. Swadling’s conversion was rushed by the defence and the Bulls saw out the remaining two minutes.

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