Rugby: Berkswell & Balsall restore winning habit

Steve Wake report on Berkswell’s Midland West Division 2 (South) encounter on Saturday 8th October on the road at Banbury:

Banbury (14) lost to Berkswell & Balsall (20)

Berkswell got back to winning ways with an impressive victory in Oxfordshire over Banbury. Outscoring their hosts by three tries to one, B’s showed plenty of adventure with an outstanding display, in defence and attack, from their Centres Coombes and McNidder plus James Fahy who grabbed a try, penalty and conversion.


Banbury started the brighter and held the lead for the first half-hour, but Berkswell persevered and deserved their victory, with two late Banbury penalties giving a more balanced look to the score line.

Banbury started brightly, playing the ball wide at every opportunity. Their well appointed stadium a sign of the elevated position the Club had recently held in the League structure. An early penalty to the home side, near the halfway line, didn’t appear to threaten, but an excellent long range kick from their Fullback sailed between the posts, to give Banbury the lead after seven minutes. Berkswell, after a quite opening, began to assert more pressure and they were level after fifteen minutes as James Fahy swept over a penalty kick from 20 meters out.

Within a couple of minutes of Berkswell’s reply, Banbury worked the ball over for their try. Close link play in their three-quarters provided an overlap on the right, for an unconverted score. It took B’s until the half-hour mark to gain the lead; Flanker Joe Cart rounded off a multi-phase move as the visiting forwards began to get the advantage; Fahy added the conversion for a two point lead. Eight minutes later Fahy scored a try of his own to further increase the Berkswell lead; he took the ball at pace after good work from McNidder deep in Banbury territory, grounding the ball near the corner, but unable to convert his own score – giving B’s a 15-8 advantage at halftime.

The next score was going to be pivotal and, after some effective pressure near their opponent’s line, it went to Berkswell. A series of rucks in the home ‘22’ led to a five meter scrum, good ball was secured and two quick passes later Winger Phil Allport went over in the right-hand corner, for an unconverted try. Berkswell then had to contain some strong home pressure as Banbury tried to get back into the game. The game continued to be hugely entertaining, as the play flowed from end to end, with both sides using their three-quarter lines and the full width of the pitch.

A penalty for offside gave Banbury the chance to reduce the arrears in the 63rd minute, which they took. Several chances then went begging for both sides as the clock ticked down. With the game into injury time Banbury slotted another penalty to secure their bonus point, but Berkswell ensured that they held on for victory.

Scorers


Tries
Joe Cart (1)
James Fahy (1)
Phil Allport (1)

Penalty
James Fahy (1)

Conversion
James Fahy (1)