Monday, 15 August 2022

Momentum swing benefits the exiles

HENLEY Bulls fielded a back division that included James Comben, Jack Bradford, Fred Pierrepont and Ellliot Cox

HENLEY Bulls fielded a back division that included James Comben, Jack Bradford, Fred Pierrepont and Ellliot Cox and looked likely to be able to cause hosts London Scottish Highlanders problems at Richmond Athletic Ground on Saturday.

The visitors enjoyed a significant amount of first half possession and it seemed that they would emerge victorious after forging ahead with a 11-0 lead with 37 minutes of the first half elapsed.

The Bulls pack had managed to dominate the scrimmage for much of the first half but had suffered a couple of penalties. However they created enough clean possession for Pierrepont to crash over on the left flank as he ran hard on to a well-timed pass from Jack Bradford.

James Comben’s territorial kicking was standing the Bulls in good stead and the pressure allowed them to create in the exiles half forced several penalties, two of which Comben landed with aplomb to see the Bulls stretch ahead.

Playing at such a tempo does not come without risk and the exiles managed to turn over possession with three minutes of the first half remaining and open their account with a try against the run of play, as their scrum half and fullback managed to jink and weave a path through a broken Bulls defence and score an unconverted try on the left wing.

The momentum seemed to swing in favour of the exiles from this point onward and despite several efforts to gain a foothold and retain their slender lead early in the second half the exiles scrum half became the driving force towards them regaining the lead within three minutes of the restart and then forging ahead further as they dabbed down from a driving maul. The hosts’ fly-half put two conversions over to add to their tally helped by the stiffening breeze which now thwarted any chance of the Bulls to revert to a territorial kicking approach.

Comben departed the action on 55 minutes replaced by Dan Hawkins but the amount of possession now being created and retained was diminishing.

Despite forcing a few penalties in opposition territory the Bulls squandered an attacking line-out and lost a scrum against the head in crucial positions. A yellow card late on for fullback Elliot Cox added to the exiles’ determination to kill the game off and as their flanker crossed for a bonus try on 70 minutes with the Bulls down to 14 men any desire to forge a comeback was dampened.

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