Henley 15-12 Banbury
Henley U14s won a thrilling and close Cup Final at Dry Leas last Sunday to be crowned Oxfordshire County Champions. In a tense and gripping encounter both teams were totally committed to their cause and the result was not secure for Henley until the final whistle blew.
For the first fifteen minutes of the match Henley had to weather a barrage of attacks from Banbury. Henley conceded turn-overs and were unable to establish parity in the scrum. After absorbing Banbury pressure, Henley managed to venture into their opponent’s half and, after a number of attacks, the Banbury defence finally cracked after a deft pass from Pereq-Quane put Bush over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Henley’s lead was soon to be relinquished as Banbury started to take advantage of their superior continuity and waves of attack pressured the Henley line. Henley were valiant in defence and repelled multiple drives but eventually conceded a short range try under their posts. This was duly converted by Banbury who lead at the interval.
In the second-half Henley increased their physicality and resolved their continuity. A typically quick pick-up from a breakdown saw Trinder step back inside and beat several opponents to touch down under the posts – he was unable to convert his own try.
Henley were now starting to demonstrate their handling ability. Off-loads and quick passes, away from the contact area, created space but Banbury’s defence and cover tacking held firm. By moving the ball from one touchline to the other Henley stretched the Banbury defence to breaking point and eventually Bush found a line and a pop pass that took him under the posts to secure his brace. Once again the try was unconverted but ensured Banbury still had to score twice.
The Henley score galvanised Banbury who threw everything they had into the last five minutes. Desperate defence resulted in a number of Henley infringements and Banbury were able to force their way over out wide to bring themselves to within one score. A quick drop goal conversion attempt missed, which meant that Banbury now needed a try to win.
With the last minute to go, Henley returned the ball long and defended until they were awarded a penalty. Time was up and the ball was kicked out to end the match – much to the relief of all Henley supporters.
Credit must be given to both teams who played with great commitment and sportsmanship – they were both an asset to their clubs and a great advert for Oxfordshire rugby.
Henley’s success was very much a squad effort. A number of boys who didn’t get to play on the day may significant contributions during the pool and knockout stages of the campaign. All squad members received a medal from Rob Walsh, President of the Oxfordshire RFU.
Henley U14s: J-T Yates, O Bunting, L Burke, C Gurney, R Porter, A White, J Trinder, H Neal (O Doyle, 20 mins), H West (Capt.), M Crook, A Perez Quane, D Kernick, H Bush, J Connelly, M Heath. Injured: W Parry. Replacements: F Cowan, E Spiers, J Forehand, B Wallace, N Cowan.
Photo: Henley U14s Squad display their cup and meals.