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 2007.10.13 Keswick & Wharfedale 094

see more 1stXV photos here or see them as a slideshow here

Old Otliensians won a superb game in the 3rd round of the EDF Junior Vase on Saturday, against previously undefeated Keswick, the victory been even sweeter as the Cumbrians play their rugby 2 levels higher than Otliensians, narrowly losing their play off last season which would have seen them rise even further up the ladder.

Keswick showed their skill and intent straight from the kick off, producing 10 minutes of sustained pressure, from a mixture of their aggressive rucking game and excellent patterns and movement from their quick and incisive back division. However, Otliensians have become a very difficult side to break down and their own defensive patterns held firm before they began to exert their own pressure, firstly through the scrummaging power which has built over the season, and then through their trade mark dynamic forward play, together with skilful exploitation of space by a back division that is growing in stature every week.

Keswick had a well constructed line out, with two tall jumpers, but Otliensians through Tom Woods and Markus Keinhorst neutralised this threat with the support of Boughan, Bonner and Lyons who ensured a torrid time on the Cumbrians own ball and clean home ball which was used effectively throughout the first half. Duggan, Grey and Hanogue were prominent in the loose, but it was Keswick who seemed to be a little quicker to the breakdowns and were still in the ascendancy when they produced an excellent series of plays on 30 minutes, commencing with several rucks before releasing their back division, who swept the ball from left to right, the full back showing tremendous pace as he broke in to space , before timing a good inside pass for the supporting wing to score under the posts, the conversion made it 7 - 0. Otliensians were again stung in to action with Foster, Ratahi and Lee O'Donnell leading the charge with strong running at the heart of the Keswick defence, and the back three of David Smith, Jon Woods and Rushforth counter attacking with aplomb.

Pressure forced a defensive mistake, leading to an Otliensians line out on the left, the call was for a shortened line, the ball went in, Bonner provided Duggan with the perfect ball, who charged through the defence to release the supporting Keinhorst on the inside for a well deserved try, and 7 - 5 halftime deficit.

The second half started with much the same Keswick pressure, forcing a penalty after 44 minutes to increase their lead to 10 -5, at this point Tom O'Donnell the rampaging back row forward was introduced, after a couple of weekends off with injury, and he made an immediate impression on the Keswick pack with a series of crunching tackles. After 49 minutes the Keswick second row was sin binned for persistent infringement at the line out and ruck, a testament to the unfolding ascendancy of the Otliensians eight in all phases, and from the subsequent penalty Foster narrowed the gap to 10 - 8 with 30 minutes remaining. Keswick regathered themselves and survived until the 62nd minute, but the continuity of the Otliensians team was now driving holes in the Keswick defence, with again Ratahi, Lee O'Donnell and Nick Keinhorst producing good breaks. A series of tap penalties near the Keswick line, produced a defensive 5 metre scrum as Otliensians were held over the line, the home 8 gathered themselves and drove the visitors off the ball, Hanogue producing a strike against the head, for Foster to pick at the base and crah over, converting for a 15 - 10 lead in the 62nd minute.

Keswick again countered with some very good back play and continued aggressively rucking at the contact area, but to no avail as the Otliensians dug deep and continued to drive their opponents back with offensive tackling. The final whistle came with Otliensians pressing the visitors line and in what was a very evenly contested game, they had shown the home support how far they have progressed over the last season, providing a performance that was worthy of this close victory, against very skilful and enterprising opponents.

Harrogate Pythons away await in the 4th round on 17 November.


Otliensians 2nd XV 17 pts v Wharfedale 3rd XV 26 pts.

 2007.10.13 Keswick & Wharfedale 056
James Kear goes on a charge for his first try

see more photos here or see them as a slideshow here

With an unbeaten record Otliensians faced their toughest game to date against the men in green from Grasssington. Both sides set out to play open rugby from the outset and after 10 mins the home side  pack scrambled back ball from a lineout which was speedily moved across the backs with wing Michael Philpot scoring wide out after some good work by  Andy Bower. Otliensians continued to put together some excellent periods of play but all too often the final pass was poor and scoring chances were wasted.

The Wharfedale pack began to come more into the game their were some spirited exchanges around the Ensians 22m.After 22 mins the visitors produced a try following some crisp handling and support play and this was converted. Otliensians continued to work hard as a team and on 28 mins after some smart handling   ended in a powerful run from wing forward James Kear who scored half-way out, with Ben Newall converting. With half time fast approaching Wharfedale began to exert strong pressure but the Ensians held on to a 10 - 7pts lead at the break.

In the opening stages of the second half , Otliensians rather lost their sense of purpose and within 5 mins of the restart the visitors scored two tries with quick handling, one of which was converted. Phil Cook had to leave the field with a leg injury after 10 mins and was replaced by Tom Twist. After 20 mins the Ensians at last began to pick up their workrate but ponderous midfield handling gave them no chances to score. On 67 mins a bad defensive error let Wharfedale in for a converted try but immediately after the Ensians drove up field and from a lineout James Kear blasted through the opposition to score his second try which Ben Newall converted.

After the relatively easy start to the season this tougher game will have benefited the Ensians team.


Due to last-minute unavailability, ‘Ensians arrived at York with only fourteen players and as the home side had only fifteen, they were unable to help out. On top of being a man down, the visitors had to play flankers Richard Freeman and Sam Grey out of position in the centre with Jason Babb taking on the unfamiliar role of fly half.

Playing down the slope, it was soon clear that the ‘Ensians pack had the edge over their bigger opponents in all departments. The front row of Steve Robinson, John Offer and Dave Beardsley began taking balls against the head and Alan Garnett produced a stream of quality ball from the lineout. Half backs Peter Gilson and Jason Babb got the back line moving and centres Freeman and Grey made good headway against the home side’s experienced defence.

After fifteen minutes, a good run by Jason Babb and slick handling by winger Dan Garnett, flankers Chris Howell and John Broadbent saw Richard Freeman go over for a fine try in the corner. Gilson was just wide with the conversion. York were still very much in the game and their strong-running backs took play into the ‘Ensians half. Just when a try looked certain, a brilliant cover tackle by number 8 Alan Garnett took the winger out a yard from the line.

The remainder of the half was evenly contested with both sides trying to move the ball wide. The visitors worked hard in defence to counter the extra man and full back Sean Flesher was called on regularly to make last-ditch tackles and clearances. Scrum half Gilson was a constant thorn in the side of the home team, sniping round the set pieces and knocking down anything that moved.

The narrow half-time lead of five points looked precarious when the visitors faced a slope with a man short in the second period. In addition, York introduced a former Knottingley first team centre in place of an injured player and their back division immediately looked much more threatening.

Despite this, ‘Ensians took the game to RI up the slope through good drives from locks Andy Wood and Mark Copping with flankers Broadbent and Howell always up in support. With their scrum still on top, the visitors disrupted opposition ball and Gilson stole the ball from his opposite number to dive over near the posts. He then converted his own try to boost the lead to 12 – 0.

An improved backline and the extra man gave York added thrust and ‘Ensians were pinned back in their own 22 for long periods. However, every player dug deep and ferocious tackling kept the home side out. A five-yard scrum on the ‘Ensians line looked ominous, but the pack summoned that bit extra from its draining resources to shove the opposition up the slope and take the ball against the head.

With ten minutes remaining, York put a good back move together and their winger scored a try wide out. The conversion narrowed the visitors lead to 12 – 7. ‘Ensians fought their way back up field only to see turnover ball find its way into the hands of the strong-running York centre who ran sixty yards to score near the posts. The conversion left the visitors trailing by 14 points to 12.

With barely a minute remaining, ‘Ensians were awarded a penalty forty three yards out and up stepped veteran scrum half Peter Gilson to take the kick. It cleared the bar with a bit to spare and the final whistle went giving the visitors a well-deserved 14-15 victory. The whole side under hard-working skipper Alan Garnett can take credit for a memorable performance.