BANBURY fell at the final hurdle as they missed out on promotion to the fifth tier in a 42-31 defeat against Exeter University.

Bulls put in a brave and determined display in the South West 1 play-off and led by three points at half-time.

But it proved to be one game too many for the East division runners-up as Exeter secured victory.

The hosts opened up a 14-0 lead after just ten minutes when James McRae and George Gosling went over, Ted Landry adding the extras.

An Ed Phillips penalty got Banbury up and running, before he converted Angus Johnson’s try as the visitors cut the deficit to four points.

Bulls thought they had taken the lead when a rolling maul crossed the try line, but the ball had been held up.

However, they scored from the resulting scrum through Matt Goode, Phillips converting, to make it 17-14.

Exeter looked dangerous after the break, Landry converting his own try before adding the extras again after Dom Thorne went over to make it 28-17.

Bulls responded when Sam Stoop chased his own kick to dot down, Phillips converting.

But Exeter hit back almost immediately, Thorne crossing for his second try, Landry converting.

The home side’s lead became 42-24 late on when Simon Linsell drove over, Landry adding the extras.

Banbury kept going and had the last word, with captain Ian Isham crossing from close range, Phillips converting, but it was not to be their day.

Meanwhile, relegated Grove completed their campaign with a 34-0 win at home to Old Centralians.

But their victory was marred by a serious injury to Tom Grundy, who is recovering in hospital with a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia.

The game had to be moved to an adjacent pitch to allow paramedics to treat the winger.

Connor Hull, who also kicked two conversions, and James Monks crossed twice, with Luke Matthews and Mike Wood also diving over.