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Old Otliensians 3rdXV 40ish pts vs Cleckheaton 2ndXV  5ish pts

 2009.02.21-Cleckheaton (15)

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In this Merit table encounter, ‘Ensians opted to face a gale-force wind in the first half and as Rishworthians could not field a front row, unfortunately scrums were uncontested from the outset. Using the wind, the home side took play into the visitors’ 22, but good foraging by flankers Dale Kennedy and Mike Ferrandino produced a turnover which allowed half backs Matt Birch and Kristian Keinhorst to get the backs moving. Powerful centre James Tincknell cut through the middle and then outpaced the cover to score near the posts. Matt Tenniswood’s conversion gave the visitors a 7 point lead after 5 minutes.

Rishworthians came back strongly, but again spilled ball gave the speedy ‘Ensians backs a chance to break away. Centre Lee O’Donnell made good ground before offloading to Tincknell who used his pace to produce his second try half way out. The failed conversion gave ‘Ensians a 12 – 0 lead after 8 minutes. The home side then buckled down to a more controlled style of play and used the elements to pin ‘Ensians back in their own half. When they did gain possession, the visiting pack adopted a copybook driving game against the wind with the front row of Chris Myers, Ross Myers and Tom Twist to the fore. The problem was that any mistake was seized upon by Rishworthians who promptly booted the ball down the field and the process had to start again. Strong defence was needed on several occasions and the back three of Andy Hayward, Matt Tenniswood and Nick Keinhorst were frequently called on to make try-saving tackles and to tidy up the kicks through.

With the home side gaining good possession from the scrums and from their tall lineout forwards, ‘Ensians had to work hard to keep their line intact. Locks Andy Wood and Chris Howells and No.8 Andy Bower made strong drives up field and there was some strong running by the backs, but it was on 35 minutes that slick passing put Tincknell in for his hat-trick under the posts. The conversion by Tenniswood gave ‘Ensians a comfortable 19 – 0 lead as half time approached. Rishworthians then promptly responded with a series of attacks and their lively young full-back scored an excellent individual try, dancing his way round several defenders to make the score 19 – 7 to the visitors at the break.

In the second half Will Foster, Ben Newall and Ben Smith came on for Lee O’Donnell, Chris Myers and Andy Bower respectively. Using the elements, ‘Ensians took play deep into the Rishworthians half and there was some good back play involving Foster, Tincknell and Nick Keinhorst, but the strong wind caused handling problems and the final pass often went astray. On 50 minutes, good interplay by forwards and backs produced a fine try in the corner from winger Andy Hayward and five minutes later a flick pass from Birch saw lock Andy Wood power his way through for a try near the posts. Sean Kennedy came on for the injured Hayward and Tincknell again showed his strength by blasting through three defenders to score his fourth try on 59 minutes. With two conversion by Tenniswood, the visitors lifted their lead to 38 – 7 going into the last quarter.

‘Ensians continued to attack with regularity, but the tricky wind and vigorous defence thwarted several promising moves. A good run by winger Nick Keinhorst saw him cut inside and link up with lock Ben Smith for a well-worked final try. Tenniswood converted to take the score to 45 – 7 on 68 minutes. Credit must go the Rishworthians who never gave up and tackled valiantly against the visitors’ experienced back division, managing to prevent a further score. Despite the gale-force wind, there was some good rugby from both sides in parts and the game was played in a good spirit throughout.