Witney 8, Banbury 44

BANBURY are celebrating another piece of history after breezing past Witney to lift the Oxfordshire Cup for a third year in a row.

Twelve months after winning the competition back-to-back, Bulls made it a treble for the first time in their history - joining four other clubs in achieving the feat.

They ran their opponents ragged, scoring seven tries at a rain-soaked Iffley Road.

Freddie Cracknell and Ian Isham crossed early on as Bulls punished a couple of errors.

Jimmy Manley streaked over after the break to all but kill the tie off.

Winger Cracknell then scored his second try, before Sam Stoop, Dan Brady and Tommy Gray got in on the act to make sure the trophy returned to north Oxfordshire for another year.

It was more heartbreak for Tug Wilson’s side, who suffered a fourth county cup final defeat.

Banbury’s Ed Phillips and Witney’s Matt Clarke traded penalties in a cagey opening.

But Bulls took advantage of their opponents’ nervy start, scoring two quick tries.

The first arrived on 11 minutes when Witney fly half Jack Birks fumbled a hopeful kick forward from Phillips and Cracknell took full advantage to dot down.

Banbury soon led 15-3 when captain Isham drove over following a catch and drive. Phillips, off target with his first conversion attempt, added the extras.

Witney needed to slow the game down to avoid Bulls running away with it.

They did just that and enjoyed their best period of play on the half-hour mark, with two lineouts on five metres.

Witney tried everything to break Bulls’s resolve, but they were met by a brilliant defensive effort and penalised for holding on.

Their pressure was well and truly eased when prop Jamie Burke was sin-binned for throwing the ball at Matt Goode’s head following a big hit from the Banbury centre.

Despite a remarkable 16 extra minutes to the first half, Bulls’ lead remained 12 points at the break.

Witney started the second period with more intensity and Clarke was denied what looked a certain try by a brilliant tackle from the covering Cracknell.

The next score was always going to be crucial and it went Banbury’s way on 50 minutes.

Great hands released Manley and the centre raced over for an unconverted try to make it 20-3.

Bulls then crossed for their fourth try five minutes later when the impressive Cracknell jinked his way over and Phillips added the extras.

The tie was beyond Witney and errors continued to hinder them.

Banbury enjoyed more territory and they made their pressure count when Stoop crossed for an unconverted try on 64 minutes.

Brady and Gray then raced over to add further salt to Witney’s wounds, Joe Mills converting the latter.

The west Oxfordshire side kept going until the end and Arron Lambourne crossed for a consolation try, but they were well beaten.

Banbury: Gray, Joe Mills, Manley, Goode, Cracknell, Stoop, E Phillips, Isham, Saar, Boulton, Dixey, Carr Archer, Jacob Mills, Powell, C Phillips. Reps: Key, Brock, Pratt, Briggs, Brady.

Witney: Marshall, Gaffney, Boshell, Clarke, Morgan, Birks, G Campbell, Burke, Copperwheat, Richens, Mortimer, Webb, Coe, Allen, Bayliss. Reps: Wakeman, Harris, Edwards, Lambourne, Lamb.