Skipper Nutt guides young Henley Bulls side to narrow Dry Leas victory
WITH captain Louis Flynn and the most recent promotion to the Hawks line-up Freddie Taylor on
WITH captain Louis Flynn and the most recent promotion to the Hawks line-up Freddie Taylor on duty in the Forest of Dean, Martin Nutt took command of the Bulls side for their home clash with Cinderford United.
With 10 Bulls players 19 years of age or under the victory was much driven by Nutt’s own exemplary performance in both attack and defence although playing in his less familiar role of flanker.
A first half littered with handling errors allowed Cinderford’s pack the opportunity to set a good platform from their dominant scrum, but the Bulls’ defensive structure held firm throughout a number of attacks launched primarily from set piece play.
It was the Bulls scrum half Toby Venner who enjoyed the opening score as Cecil MacCarthy had made one of several barnstorming forays into the visitors’ territory and slick handling from Charlie Stacey and Luke Govier and placed them close. Venner opted to pick from the base of a ruck 10 metres out and showed to pass wide to Ross Lewis on his blind-side only to drop his right shoulder inside the blind-side defence and dot down to give the Bulls a 5-0 lead. Luke Govier’s kick was on target but short of the crossbar.
As possession and territorial advantage ebbed and flowed over the next 20 minutes the only addition to the score came from a Cinderford penalty in front of the Bulls posts.
Despite losing the contest at the scrum, the Bulls line-out was proving a good source of possession with Huw Evans, Tyler Wint — on his debut — and Archie McGowan gathering a good slice of the possession from George Primett’s varied delivery. Failing to reach the space on the flanks with quick ball, strong running wing Dyneal Fessal was forced to come inside to look for an opportunity and on 25 minutes his endeavour paid off, as centre Andrew Bailey had put a dent in the Cinderford defence and Fessal drove over the line for the Bulls’ second try.
Govier added the extra two points to take the Bulls in at half-time 12-3 up although it could have been seven more as Venner had a second try disallowed as the match official had no view of the grounding of the ball. The momentum stayed with the Bulls for the opening part of the second half as George Primett and Tyler Wint showed their willingness to carry out of defence and make gains. It was Nutt’s turn to set the example as he latched on to a delivery from Jack Wiggins to dance and swerve his way through several tackles on the right flank and score under the posts, making Govier’s conversion less challenging.
With a 17-3 lead the Bulls’ defensive line-speed dropped off a little and Cinderford soon made them pay as their pack forced a penalty try through their stronger scrummage, as they splintered the Bulls front five twice in succession. The Cinderford scrum half converted.
With momentum swinging the Foresters way the Bulls tried desperately to deter wave after wave of pressure and did so valiantly for the most part, all but one penalty which brought Cinderford within four points of the Bulls tally.
With 25 minutes remaining Charlie Stacey, the promising 17-year-old Bulls centre, suffered a yellow card for repeat infringement and a second yellow three minutes later for Cecil MacCarthy the prop meant that the Bulls had to defend a 17-13 lead for seven minutes with only 13 players. Despite spending much of this time just short of their own try-line they venomously kept the Foresters at bay only to give up the lead to a well worked try on the right flank by the Cinderford wing whilst restored to full manpower. The conversion proved too difficult on this occasion.
With six minutes to go the Bulls smashed their way upfield using Hugo Milford-Scott’s strength and Venner’s quick delivery and retaining possession well they probed for the winner. Their endeavour was soon rewarded with a penalty from 35 metres, which Govier struck confidently to restore their narrow lead with just two minutes to play. Their tenacious defence held strong for the remainder of the game to take a valuable four points from this dramatic second half.
Henley Bulls: Cecil MacCarthy, Matt Hopkins (Charlie Sichel, 57 mins), George Primett, Tyler Wint, Huw Evans, Archie McGowan (Hugo Gentilli, 57 mins), Martin Nutt, Hugo Milford-Scott, Toby Venner, Jack Wiggins, Ross Lewis, Charlie Stacey, Andew Bailey, Dyneal Fessal, Luke Govier. Replacements: Jack Edwards, Daley Aremu