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 Roundhegians 2nds (13)

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Otliensians started well against the lively visitors and quickly established themselves in opposition territory. The visitors strayed offside, but Matt Tenniswood’s kick narrowly missed. ‘Ensians then found themselves defending a series of attacks from a well-drilled side and on 9 minutes the Roundhegians winger rounded the cover to score an unconverted try. Soon afterwards, flanker Dale Kennedy was injured and, in the absence of a substitute, Roundhegians sportingly loaned a player.

The home side struggled to hold its own in the scrums, but Brett Tenniswood and Ben Smith were producing their share of quality ball from the lineouts and the ’Ensians backs were able to gain territory, but the visitors’ defence held solid. On 30 minutes, Roundhegians caught the defence napping and dived over from a tap penalty taking their lead to 12 – 0. Soon after, the visitors had a player sin-binned and the home side began to exert pressure. After good inter-play between forwards and backs, Rob Grey was on hand to take the final pass to make the score 12-5 to the visitors at half time.

Otliensians opened the second half at a brisk pace and good back play produced a fine break by Darren Cooley, an offload to Liam Copping saw the young centre beat his man to score wide out. The conversion failed, but with the score at 12-10 to the visitors, ‘Ensians were very much back in the game. Instead of building on their progress, the home side found itself struggling to obtain possession as Roundhegians applied pressure through forwards and backs. Twice ’Ensians were disorganised as Roundhegians took tap penalties near the line and two tries were conceded on 45 and 47 minutes taking their lead to 26 – 10.

Although Otliensians battled hard, they had no answer to the good support play by the visitors which produced another converted try on 55 minutes. The home side responded with a good back move and centre Copping cut through in style for his second try on 60 minutes. The conversion by Tenniswood reduced the deficit to 33 – 17. Roundhegians continued to attack through forwards and backs and there was good defending from centre Andy Hayward and winger Tom Broadbent. On 62 minutes the pressure told and Roundhegians scored another converted try to lift the score to 40 – 17.

Otliensians worked hard for the remaining few minutes, but they could not break the stout defence. The home side was very much in the game until just after half time, but with the visitors having the edge in most departments, despite working hard, they struggled to create opportunities.



With part of the pitch still solid from the previous night’s frost, ‘Ensians took the field with newcomers Joe Wynne in the centre and Danny Schietaert on the wing. On a greasy pitch, Roundhegians quickly demonstrated that they had a good pair of half backs and two strong running centres and for the first few minutes it was all defence for the visitors. As they settled down, ‘Ensians half backs Peter Tempest and Dave Smith took play upfield, but when a promising back move broke down, Roundhegians moved the ball swiftly and the winger cut inside to score near the posts after 9 minutes.

The visitors buckled down, but with the home forwards having the edge in the scrums, ball to the half backs was untidy and the defence was up quickly to snuff out potential moves. Centres Graham Bentley and Joe Wynne made good ground, but the home tackling was up to the task. On 16 minutes good hands by the Roundhegians backs sent their stocky centre through for a try under the posts and the conversion gave the home side a 14 – 0 lead.

With Alan Garnett obtaining good ball from the lineout, ‘Ensians backs began to make progress and there were strong runs from Bentley and Wynne with Schietaert coming close. A good forward drive involving props Scott Child and Chris Booth and lock Ray Drake produced quick ball for fly half Smith to slice through. After making 30 yards, he offloaded to supporting No.8 Alan Garnett who went in under the posts for a splendid try. Smith’ conversion took the score to 14 – 7 to the home side after 28 minutes. Both sides continued to play open rugby, but with Roundhegians having the edge in possession, full back Sean Flesher acquitted himself well fielding kicks and making last-ditch tackles. As half time approached, the home side put together a sweeping move to allow their centre to cut through and score half way out. The conversion left ‘Ensians trailing 21 – 7 at the break.

In the second half, Mark Copping moved into the second row and this steadied the scrum and gave cleaner ball for the backs. Smith made another good break with the last pass going to ground and flankers Robin Devereux and Steve Lofthouse were causing problems for the opposition at the breakdowns. When Darryl Hamilton received a leg injury on 60 minutes Hugh Gumbs came on at fly half, Dave Smith moved to flanker and Steve Lofthouse filled the vacancy on the wing. Roundhegians wondered what had hit them when Gumbs blasted his way through the middle on his first touch of the ball and the whole pattern of the game changed with the visitors stepping up their game in the loose and centres Bentley and Wynne making strong runs downfield.

It was now the home side’s turn to defend and quickly re-cycled ball provided Gumbs with the opportunity to power his way through four defenders to score wide out. The conversion failed but trailing by 21-12 on 70 minutes, the visitors were very much back in the game. Otliensians continued to dominate territorially, but there was a setback when hard-working prop Dave Beardsley had to go off with a leg injury. Despite this the side re-grouped and took play into the home 22 where Gumbs took a slick pass from Tempest to force his way over in the corner. The conversion from Gumbs narrowly missed, but with the score at 21-17 on 76 minutes, ‘Ensians could scent victory. On one of the last moves of the game, Wynne made a break and looked to be rounding the cover when he slipped on the greasy surface and the ball was cleared into touch. Roundhegians defended well for the last two minutes and denied ‘Ensians a victory.

The game was played in an excellent spirit and credit must go to the determination of Otliensians who gradually turned things around and came close to snatching a win.