HENLEY BULLS travelled to the Richmond Athletic Ground for their penultimate Zoo Shield fixture of the
HENLEY BULLS travelled to the Richmond Athletic Ground for their penultimate Zoo Shield fixture of the season with only four of the side that secured victory against early league leaders Blackheath.
Several of the successful team were named in the Hawks squad for their encounter with Dings Crusaders allowing room for some promising young talent to back–fill the Bulls XV.
Despite the scoreline the youthful Bulls outfit showed enormous spirit and tested their more experienced opponents for much of the game with good skill and courageous phase play.
With the Highlanders leading 7–0 Patrick George straightened his running line and broke through the Scots’ defence to feed fullback Dan Hawkins who showed a clean pair of heels in a chase to the line for an unconverted try.
The Bulls’ lighter pack were under pressure during the early scrummaging giving the Highlanders a decent platform to base their attack from and they were soon 12–5 up but with hooker Luke Watts and Shek Sheriff combining well at the front of the line–out and Spencer Goggin kicking astutely the Bulls forced some territorial gains and this pressure resulted in Sheriff diving over from a close ruck to narrow the score on 25 minutes.
Just prior to the break the Highlanders stretched away as the Bulls failed to secure some loose ball and the Scots broke down the left flank against a fractured defence and scored a third try giving them a 19–10 lead at half–time.
One of the stand–out performances for the Bulls came from Scott White at open–side flanker as his tackle count mounted and his determined work in repelling the Highlanders when close to the Bulls line stood out.
The Highlanders made much more of their share of possession and strong midfield carries from their centre pairing that finally broke the Bulls down as their lead stretched and became insurmountable.
Ant Brennan at tight–head and captain James Bloxham were two of few experienced players in the Bulls ranks and Bloxham endeavoured to continue to reduce the deficit with some thundering carries and his determination was eventually rewarded with a consolatory try with 15 minutes remaining.
In the final 15 minutes the Bulls pressed hard with some aerial dominance from Sheriff and Will Morrison putting them on the front foot.
However, desperate foray came to a sticky end as a failure to secure ball at the breakdown for lively scrum–half Will Beynon to make use of resulted in a number of turn–overs catching the Bulls over exposed and the Highlanders adding to the tally.
Henley Bulls: Max Chandler, Luke Watts, Ant Brennan (Cecil McCarthy), Will Morrison, Shek Sheriff, Ross Gilbert (Jack Broughton), Scott White, James Bloxham, Will Beynon (Hubert Dampier), Spencer Goggin, Dan Furnell, Patrick George, Jack Antoniou, Ross Lewis, Dan Hawkins.