THE Bulls’ fortunes over recent weeks have been turbulent having lost key figures through injury or having gained
THE Bulls’ fortunes over recent weeks have been turbulent having lost key figures through injury or having gained a place in the Hawks line-up but a blend of experience and new talent produced a performance that helped them see off Bournemouth last Saturday.
This was the south coast side’s first defeat of the season in a friendly played out a Dry Leas.
Tom Bartlett took charge for the first time and led by example where his agility and safe hands at the restarts and line-out proved a key factor along with a dominant scrum where James Hadfield became the fulcrum in an unfamiliar role at hooker.
Bournemouth opened the scoring with a try against the run of play as the Bulls pressed for an opener themselves. They countered from 60m out against an undermanned Bulls defence. Both Bournemouth and the Bulls had squandered early penalty opportunities and with the wind becoming a growing factor in decision-making both sides opted against kicking penalties thereafter.
A line break from Oliver Snook saw his support runner Scott White put Ross Lewis away on the left flank but he was bustled into touch beyond the Bournemouth 22 metre line.
Henry Sandys had contributed with two bustling carries into Bournemouth territory and resulting set piece plays involving Iwan Davies and Alex Collis committed enough defenders for Roddy Giles to feed his three-quarters and Louis Flynn put Joel Thomas over in the corner to bring the scores even at 5-5 at the break.
The 20 minutes after half-time became the Bulls’ most productive period. Before leaving the field with a knee injury Giles fed Oliver Snook who jinked and side-stepped through a tiring Bournemouth defence to put the Bulls ahead. Giles added the conversion before giving way to Ben Palmer due to a knee injury.
Palmer, now at fly-half, added an injection of pace which was complemented by Snook’s penetrative running angles and they combined to create a try after Will Woodward and Iwan Davies had driven hard into the opposition half.
Palmer showed his ability to change pace early on as he exploited a mismatch and stuttered then accelerated through a gap to put Snook and Flynn into space and as the Bournemouth defence scrambled a well timed pass found Ross Lewis who burst free to score. Palmer drilled the conversion through the posts.
With MacCarthy, Hadfield and Sandys dominated their opposite front row at scrum time, scrum half Toby Howe launched a blind-side attack where Palmer and Snook flooded the tight side and with slick handling they created enough of an overlap to the Bulls over for a fourth try in the right corner.
The remaining 10 minutes saw a resurgence from Bournemouth as they created two tries through persistent hammering of the Bulls defence until they breached it once from close quarters to the right of the post and once on the right flank as they sucked in the wide defence with repetitive carries.