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Halifax 17 - Old Otliensians A 54

Due to one car arriving late due to it mistakenly going to Halifax Vandals the Otliensians team didn’t have much time for a warm up and with Halifax having at least 8 reserves it looked like they were going to have a difficult afternoon. From the first scrum of the game it was clear that the Ensians front-row of Phil Cook, Ross Myers and Dave Beardsley were going to be able to get some quality ball that included a number of strikes against the head. Neil Barlow captaining the team from fly-half had a great game in attack and defence. The backline were positive in attack and when they got the ball wide the wingers Richard Cuff and Daren Cooley were too quick for their opposing wingers and between them scored three tries. The centre partnerships of Andy Hayward and Andy Bower (and later Jason Babb) were very effective which resulted in all three scoring tries.

Halifax scored there tries through there big forwards and could have got more but were held out on the line by some great defence, particularly by the pack. Anand Desai played well at full-back particularly in counter attacking where he linked up well with his team mates. The Ensians forwards and backs both rucked well and turned over plenty of Halifax ball with Matt Taylor and Johnny Saunders prominent. The support play of Attilio Leccisotti, Joe Firth, and Joey Robinson was a key factor in Ensians being able to play such an expansive game with the latter scoring a great supporting try. Neil Barlow gave a master class in goal kicking by kicking seven conversion out of eight attempts.


 2007.09.22 Sunlight 092
Gilly tries to run through a much bigger bloke.

more photos here!

‘Ensians welcomed their old foes selecting veteran Peter Tempest in the centre alongside former first-teamer Michael Philpott. Although Otley had four substitutes, they could not provide a front row and once again, the home side had to contend with the disappointment of uncontested scrums.

The visitors, strengthened by two South Africans in the backs, soon showed they had plenty to offer when the ball was moved wide. However, ‘Ensians defence was up to the task and strong tackling by Tempest and half backs Peter Gilson and Will Haines snuffed out several promising attacks.

With Alan Garnett and Sam Grey supplying quality ball from the lineout, the home side was frequently on the attack, but the firm defence held. In the loose, the ‘Ensians pack had the edge with Tom Twist, Andy Wood and Dan Ridgeway making powerful drives.

Although the home side had a territorial advantage, they could not breach the Otley defensive line, but two minutes before half time, lock Andy Wood broke from a maul and forced his way past two tackles to score near the posts. The conversion by Will Haines gave ‘Ensians a 7 – 0 lead at the break.

The second period began in similar vein with the home pack driving the ball well, but being turned over at crucial moments and allowing the speedy Otley backs to counter- attack. Ray Drake replaced the injured Jim McDougall with newcomer Chris Howells, Dan Brogan and Dan Garnett coming on for Twist, Darren Hamilton and Steve Lofthouse. Both sides continued to play some enterprising rugby, but it was on 65 minutes that a series of strong drives by Otley saw Chris Booth force his way over. Jamie Chappell converted to level the scores at 7 – 7.

In the last fifteen minutes, play moved from end to end with ‘Ensians prop Scott Child nearly forcing his way over in the corner. The Otley backs frequently looked dangerous and came close, but a sound display by full back Sean Flesher and good covering by flanker Sam Grey kept them out.

The final score of 7 apiece was a fair reflection of a match played in an excellent spirit under the cheerful stewardship of local referee Derek Smith.

Report supplied by the coach, John Harrison.