Banbury 20

(Tries: Brady 2, Berridge. Con: Phillips. Pen: Phillips)

Chinnor Falcons 5

(Try: Harewood)

BANBURY clinched the Oxfordshire Cup for a fourth year in a row as they fended off a gutsy Chinnor Falcons at Iffley Road.

Dan Brady (2) and Ed Berridge crossed as Bulls continued their domination of the county competition on a glorious spring evening.

Falcons showed great spirit to stay in the game and push for a score until the end, but the holders stood firm to win the trophy for a seventh time.

In doing so they also became the fifth team to win the cup four years in a row, following in the footsteps of Oxford, Henley, Oxford Harlequins and Chinnor.

Banbury's Berridge was rewarded for a fine individual performance by receiving the Ron Grimshaw Memorial Trophy.

While teammates Sam Stoop and Joe Winpenny marked their retirement with another cup success.

Despite having a broken bone in his hand, winger Brady crossed twice as Bulls led 15-5 in what turned out to be a relatively even opening 40 minutes.

Banbury crucially scored first after the break, No 8 Berridge plunging over as he marked a fine performance with a try.

Chinnor refused to give in and enjoyed most of the territory in the second half, but they could not find a way through a resolute Bulls.

Banbury enjoyed more possession in a frenetic opening ten minutes, but they were sent a few warning signs by Falcons, who looked dangerous on the counter.

Only a fine tap tackle from Berridge prevented Chinnor’s Oscar Heath from racing through, before an unlucky bounce denied Evan Davies the chance to sprint to the line from his own half after outpacing Stoop.

Bulls were still enjoying more of the ball, though, and dealt their opponents a major blow with two tries in the space of three minutes from Brady.

Berridge cut a fine line before a one-handed pass sent the winger racing over for his first on 17 minutes.

Banbury were straight back on the attack after the restart and, after the ball was worked quickly across the pitch, Duncan Leese fed Brady for his second. Ed Phillips, who hit a post with his first conversion attempt, adding the extras to make it 12-0.

Falcons, cheered on by a crowd including a large number of Chinnor’s first team, were not to be deterred, though, and reduced the deficit to seven points on 25 minutes when prop Brad Harewood dived over for an unconverted try following a line out.

However, Banbury quickly made it 15-5 when Phillips slotted over a penalty from 30 metres.

Falcons continued to dig deep and dominated the last ten minutes of the half.

With Heath pulling the strings at fly-half, they searched for a second try and flanker Sam Jones looked certain to score only to knock on just inches from the line.

Davies also lost the ball forward when trying to break a tackle as Bulls defended well to crucially keep their opponents at bay and lead by ten points at the break.

Falcons needed to score first in the second period, however they were made to defend by a Banbury side determined to open up a more convincing lead.

Stoop came close to a dream try in his final game before retirement, but they did not have to wait long.

A powerful drive pushed Falcons back and Berridge plunged over for Bulls’ third try on 53 minutes. Phillips pushed his conversion attempt just wide, but the holders now led 20-5.

Chinnor, seven-time winners of this competition, desperately needed to find a way back into the game.

Heath showed lovely hands to pick up a loose kick and glided past two Banbury players before being stopped by Berridge.

Falcons continued to huff and puff, but handling errors meant they were unable to make the most of any territory.

They continued to search for a reply, though, and replacement Max Williams cut through the Bulls defence with ease, but was also denied by Berridge who did just enough to bring him down.

Banbury were determined to hold firm and they nearly scored a late fourth try.

Jack Briggs sprinted more than 70m following an interception, but was brilliantly caught by Falcons’ pacy winger Davies with the try line at his mercy.

Bulls lost Brady to the sin bin late on, but it did not matter as they were again able to celebrate being county champions.

Banbury: Joe Mills, Parker, Leese, Briggs, Brady, Stoop, Phillips, Winpenny, Isham, Boulton, Carr-Archer, Pratt, Jacob Mills, Turner, Berridge. Reps: Key, Saar, Horne, Goode, Kirwin.

Chinnor Falcons: McMinn, Aslett, Strathdee, Clayton, Davies, Heath, Graham, Harewood, White, Ludgate, Lavin, Jones, Wilkinson, Norman, Hope. Reps: D Collins, Biss, Williams, Coulon, R Collins.