Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Vikings’ late three-try onslaught leaves gallant Bulls trampled

DESPITE the scoreline in favour of Zoo Shield Division 1 leaders Richmond Vikings, this match

DESPITE the scoreline in favour of Zoo Shield Division 1 leaders Richmond Vikings, this match was evenly balanced for the first hour of the game.

Richmond had much of the possession and field position during the early exchanges and were thwarted on one occasion by a timely turn-over on their five metre line from Jack Bradford and some fine scramble defence from Ed Church and Liam O’Neill.

The Bulls held tight with captain Tom Gardner deploying a defence that curtailed every attack until 17 minutes in, when their attempt to repel a driving maul from a line-out left them short of cover on the blind-side and Richmond’s flanker peeled away to score unchallenged. The Richmond fly-half was accurate with the conversion from the touchline.

With little possession of their own for the first 20 minutes the Bulls began to gain more of a foothold closer to half-time, using Tommy Haynes as their target at the line-out in order to provide a platform.

As possession continued to swing to and fro the Bulls pushed for points with Cecil MacCarthy coming closest to scoring before being chopped down just inches short of his target and the Vikings defence repelling several close quarter drives from Haynes and Charlie Nixon. Toby Davies, the Bulls centre, showed his balance and guile breaking the Vikings defence on one occasion only to be foiled from getting his pass away to his support and Jack Bradford cleverly stripped the Vikings’ back row of the ball during a bust down the left flank to deny them an overlap.

The Bulls looked capable at this point of turning the score in their favour but Richmond denied them any space or quick ball to create a sustained attack. The Bulls’ only score came on 50 minutes as Elliot Cox landed a penalty as a result of a Vikings infringement when they were reduced to 14 men for a 10 minute period and the Bulls forwards had pressed hard with Andrew Unsworth and Dave Wells teaming up to occupy the tight Richmond defence.

Richmond’s second try came on 58 minutes from a similar situation to their first when they controlled a driving maul close to the Bulls line and managed to steer their way over the line despite some valiant resistance. A change at scrum-half for Richmond restored the tempo of their attack which had been relentless at times and eventually took its toll with 20 minutes remaining.

The Bulls’ watertight defence eventually creaked and then finally gave way allowing the Vikings three late tries, all of which were scored by their backs.

Henley Bulls: James Hadfield, Ed Church, Sam Beckett, Andrew Unsworth, Charlie Nixon, Dave Wells, Alex Collis, Tom Haynes, Spencer Goggin, Jack Bradford, Liam O’Neill, Toby Davies, Tom Gardner, Dyneal Fassel, Elliot Cox. Replacements: Cecil MacCarthy, James Scott, Joel Thomas, Tom Steindler, Fred Taylor, Andrew Bailey, Rhod Giles.

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