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CASTLEFORD 22 OTLIENSIANS 0
Castleford was always going to be a difficult trip for the Ensians and so it proved, as a very big Castleford side, bolstered by some fast track signings during the week from National Division club Cleckheaton proved too strong on the day, for an Ensians side who never gave up, showing tremendous spirit right to the final whistle.
Castleford began the game with the benefit of the elements, and soon showed their intent with a series of well executed back moves, which were thwarted by strong defence. Ensians had been disrupted during the morning with the late withdrawals of skipper Smith and Ratahi, with Babb coming in at full back for his first game of the season and Shaw returning to the centre after injury.
This also led to a reshuffle in the pack, where Ensians were giving around 2 stone a man, which proved crucial in the scrum and rolling maul, where Castleford applied constant pressure throughout.
The first Castleford try came after 10 minutes, when they took clean line out ball, ran good angles in the centre for the full back to release the left wing who squeezed in at the corner, after 17 minutes after a surging rolling maul, the centres ran a well constructed switch to score near the posts for a converted try.
Otliensians came back, punching holes in the Castleford defence with their more dynamic game, but were just not able to penetrate the final lines, when a relieving kick took play back deep in to the Ensians 22, from here a series of mauls were set up which resulted in the third Castleford try after 26 minutes.
Again the Ensians came back with Bonner outstanding, and Duggan leading from the front, but it was difficult to create enough momentum against the elements, and with the final play of the first half Castleford again manufactured the chance for their left wing to dive in at the corner for a 22 - 0 half time lead.
To the great credit of all the Ensians team they gave it every last ounce of energy in the second half, producing excellent attacking options and heroic defence, which lead to no further points been scored by either side for the full 40 minutes.
In the final analysis Otliensians were beaten by the better side on the day, and as was always suspected, Castleford not only have a large pool of quality players, but they also seem to have the financial resources to support what will be a strong challenge for one of the promotion places.
Old Otliensians 2nd XV 62 PTS V Castleford 2nd XV 10 pts See more photos here!
Castleford kicked off deep into the Otliensians half and the home side
immediatley ran the ball back up field with a fine handling move which
left wing Darren Cooley finished off by scoring wide out, scrum half Ben
Newall converted. This really set the pattern for the rest off this Merit
table game with Otliensians seeking to run the ball whenever possible and
after 5 mins a similar sweeping move saw centre Michael Philpott score,
Newall again converting.At this stage Castleford just had no answer to the
Ensians attacks and Newall added another try on 25 mins. The Casleford
pack had some real heavyweights but did not attempt to drive the home side
in the set scrums but were able to use their strength in the more static
aspects of the forward play. During this period Ensians conceded a series
of penalties and Castleford seized the chance to score. Their No 10 was
really quite sharp but his constant kicking the ball back to the Ensians
must have frustrated the line outside him.
‘Ensians arrived a man short and Castleford generously loaned a prop from their bench to make up the full side. The Castleford team which took the field to warm-up was impressive both in size and skills.
Castleford started at a brisk pace and their big forwards took play deep into ‘Ensians territory. Despite non-stop tackling by ‘Ensians, the home side forced their way over after five minutes. The conversion failed and after this initial shock,’ skipper Will Haines roused the visitors and they managed to steady their game.
Initially, Alan Garnett was getting some good ball from the lineout and half backs Pete Boultby and Haines managed to get their backs moving. Centres “Til” Lescotti and Steve Lofthouse combined well and made some thrusting runs which tested the Castleford defence. Full-back Sean Flesher was always there in support. The problem was that any loose passing or spilled ball brought immediate counter attacks and from one such move, Castleford scored wide-out midway through the half. Once again the conversion failed.
The size and pace of the home side was beginning to tell, but the ‘Ensians front row of Dave Beardsley, John Offer and Geoff Brown were managing to get their own ball. However, against such a heavy pack, the ball delivered to scrum-half Pete Boultby was untidy and on two occasions within a few minutes, Castleford capitalised on mix-ups and were able to scramble the ball over the line and score. With half-time approaching, the visitors found themselves twenty points down. Just before the whistle, the home backs mounted a good move for their winger to score halfway out and the successful conversion left ‘Ensians trailing by twenty seven points at the break.
In the second period, the visitors tightened up their defence with the back row of John Broadbent, Alan Garnett and Richard Wardak putting in some strong tackles. An untidy clearance saw the home side move the ball skilfully to produce a try near the posts which was converted. ‘Ensians responded with some long searching kicks from fly half Haines, but their success in the lineouts dwindled as the “home” referee took a relaxed view of the Castleford throwing-in. Good harassing by winger Tony Collins and centre Lescotti nearly produced a try-scoring opportunity, but the ball was adjudged to have been knocked forward.
Although seriously outweighed, the ‘Ensians pack gave a good account of itself and lock Andy Wood made his presence felt with some good drives. The whole side was tackling well, but they could not stop a sweeping back move which allowed the home winger to squeeze in at the corner. This was the last score as ‘Ensians continued to defend well for the last five minutes to leave the final score at thirty nine points to nil.
It was only after the match that ‘Ensians learned that the
majority of the Castleford 2nd XV had apparently refused to
travel to the away game at Otley which meant that ‘Ensians B had actually
played Castleford second team instead of the thirds. This made the ‘Ensians
spirited effort under skipper Haines even more praiseworthy