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HALIFAX VANDALS 0 OLD OTLIENSIANS 8

Ensians completed their 2006 programme with an excellent victory in the first round of the Yorkshire Silver Trophy, played in swamp like conditions on the hills above Halifax, with sub zero temperatures, and a gale force wind blowing the continuous heavy rain across the pitch, the standard of rugby from both teams was to be applauded.

As could be expected an open game was not the order of the day, and with Halifax having the first use of the elements, it was left to the Ensians pack to establish the solid foundations from which the victory was forged.

With pools of water all over the pitch, and with the turf cutting up badly the Ensians players set themselves for what proved to be less of a test than could have been anticipated during the first half, with Halifax choosing to try and run the ball rather than use the considerable advantage of the elements. Time and again the Ensians defence was able to close the Halifax players down, and after the first 10 minutes, the Ensians began to win the territorial battle, forcing Halifax on to the back foot, playing hard close quarters rugby, and running good angles in the backs, eventually leading to a Foster penalty on 23 minutes, which proved to be the only score of the first half.

Unlike their opponents, Ensians sensibly used the elements in the second half to pin Halifax back in to the left hand corner of the pitch, and they never escaped their own half, apart from the restart to a Bonner try after 53 minutes, which followed several phases of controlled play by the Ensians forwards together with Birch and Kristian Keinhorst at half back, who controlled the play beautifully with astute and intelligent kicking options.

The pressure began to mount on the Halifax team, and after Bonner had a further try counted out, the game went to uncontested scrums as the Ensians dominance of the game continued, but when Halifax commendably tried to run the ball out to relieve the pressure, there was no way through the meanest defence in Yorkshire Division 4, and the game ended with neither teams kit able to be distinguished, and it was a testament to the excellent refereeing that both sides were able to contribute in such torrid conditions.

A special thanks must also go to the large contingent of Ensians faithful who made the trip, the team appreciate your efforts, and look forward to your continuing support in 2007.

Report supplied by the coach, Gary Walker.
 

HALIFAX VANDALS A 17 - OLD OTLIENSIANS A 22

Due to unavailability over the festive season, ‘Ensians brought in No 8 Alan Garnett and prop Dave Beardsley from the 3rd XV for their trip to Halifax. The Vandals Club, in a hilly exposed position, provided the usual scenario of cold, driving rain as a backdrop to the rugby.

With the Vandals team including a mixture of veterans in the forwards and youngsters in the backs, the visitors were put under constant pressure for the first fifteen minutes. Strong tackling from centres Andy Bower and Andy Hayward along with full back Darren Cooley kept Vandals at bay. ‘Ensians were also struggling in the set pieces against a big, experienced pack and from a rare clean ball from a ruck, fly half Phil Purnell put an astute grubber kick through for captain Andy Bower to dribble forty yards for a fine score under the posts. Ben Newell’s conversion gave the visitors an unexpected seven point’s lead.

This score against the run of play spurred-on the home side and they threw everything into attack from the kick=off. The back row of Ben Smith, Alan Garnett and Joe Robinson tackled heroically, but the powerful Vandals forwards drove over to score twice in the space of ten minutes to take the lead.

After words from team manager Pete Tempest, ’Ensians steadied their game and began to make progress into opposition territory through thrusting runs from Chris Myers, son Ross and Dan Ridgway. The home side infringed and scrum half Ben Newell kicked a penalty to level the scores at ten all.

Shortly afterwards, Newell had to leave the field for treatment and Rob Grey came on as substitute. Within minutes, he stunned Vandals by breaking round a scrum and setting off on a weaving sixty- yard run, beating several defenders, to score wide out. The conversion failed, but this gave the visitors a five point lead at the break.

With experienced prop Dave Beardsley and centre Lee O’Donnell coming on at half time, ‘Ensians settled and used the strong wind to put pressure on the home side. Much cleaner ball came from the scrum and Joe Robinson started producing better ball from the lineout. This gave the visiting backs opportunities to show their paces and wingers Steve Lofthouse and Dale Kennedy tested the home defence. Good backing up by full back Darren Cooley saw him cut through in style only to get tackled just short of the line. However, young flanker Joe Robinson was on hand to scoop up the ball and dive over under the posts. The conversion gave ‘Ensians a twelve point lead.

Vandals then reversed some of their earlier substitutions to beef up the side and immediately put the visitors under pressure with strong forward drives. ‘Ensians tackled ferociously, but they could not stop a rolling maul producing a try under the posts. The conversion reduced the Vandals deficit to five points.

With the game very much in the balance, ‘Ensians buckled down and put pressure on the home side in the closing minutes to produce a 22 points to 17 victory. The game was played in atrocious conditions and credit must go to both sides for their efforts to produce a good open game. ‘Ensians came out on top because of their spirited defence and their willingness to run the ball at every opportunity.
 

appleyr@bigfoot.com