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OLD RISHWORTHIANS 20 – OLD OTLIENSIANS 19

In their first encounter with Rishworthians in a league game for many seasons, ‘Ensians had to contend with a howling wind blowing end to end. Playing with the elements, the visitors were soon under an onslaught from a very lively home pack who battled their way into the ‘Ensians 22. Although there was a knock-on, Rishworthians applied pressure from their solid pack and took the ball against the head to move the ball wide where the winger went over on 4 minutes for an unconverted try.

The visitors then began to settle and half backs Tim Rushfirth and John Ratahi used the wind to gain territory and took play into the Rishworth half. Some good play by the back row of Collum Hanogue, Rob Arbuckle and James Holland, who scrapped well for the ball, produced a penalty for offside and Will Foster obliged to make the score 5 – 3 on 9 minutes. ‘Ensians were now putting together some good phases of play and there were some decisive runs from Foster and Kristian Keinhorst in the centre. The home side infringed again and Foster kicked a long-range penalty to put the visitors in front at 6 – 5 on 13 minutes.

The visitors now piled on the pressure and wingers Richard Goakes and Nick Keinhorst had strong runs with good support from the third of the Keinhorst brothers, full back James. Lock James Duggan got clean ball from a lineout and Ratahi made a half break to link with Foster who cut through in style. He off-loaded to Arbuckle who galloped towards the line and slipped the ball to Duggan who went over for an excellent try under the posts. The conversion by James Keinhorst increased the lead to 13 – 5 to the visitors on 17 minutes. Sadly, Foster suffered a hamstring injury and he was replaced by flanker Rob Grey with Holland moving into the centre berth.

The pressure continued with some good drives by prop Tony Myers and locks Duggan and Chris Howells and when Rishworthians illegally hung on to the ball, James Keinhorst stroked over a fine penalty to lift the score to 17 – 5 on 26 minutes. After a rousing talk by their skipper, the home side tore into ‘Ensians from the kick-off and good interplay between forwards and backs took play into the visitors 22. Never really comfortable in the set-pieces, the visitors were now struggling to get good ball to scrum half Rushfirth and with a lively back-row, Rishworthians managed to disrupt clearance attempts to maintain territorial position. Quick ball from a scrum and deft hands saw their winger go over in the corner for an unconverted try.

The killer blow came soon after the kick-off when an innocuous kick downfield was snapped up by the speedy home fly half who beat two defenders to set his No.8 off on a powerful run up the touchline. As the cover came across, he slipped the ball to his centre who went in under the posts. From being 16 – 5 up, ’Ensians now found themselves 17 – 16 down on 33 minutes. They took play back to the home side and No.8 Rob Arbuckle had some good drives in midfield with support from hooker Rob Lyon and Collum Hanogue. The problem was that the home pack was playing very much in ‘Ensians’ faces at the breakdown and some lenient refereeing stifled the visitors’ attempts to get the ball moving. As half time approached, the referee at last penalised an offside and James Keinhorst kicked a long-range penalty to restore a slender 19 – 17 lead.

Using the gale-force wind in the second half, Rishworthians immediately took play deep into the opposition half and with their tails up, the home pack made life difficult for the ‘Ensians defence. On 42 minutes, the visitors were penalised for hanging on when the player tackled had barely hit the floor and Rishworthians regained the lead with a penalty at 20 – 19 on 42 minutes. Ross Myers replaced Phil Cook in the front row, but the visitors continued to struggle in the scrums and Tim Rushfirth worked hard to get untidy ball away. With limited possession, the ‘Ensians backs did well to take play up field, but fierce defence snuffed out several promising attacks. James Duggan worked hard against the odds in the lineout, but a liberal interpretation of the laws allowed the spoiling tactics of the home side to create untidy ball for the half backs.

Hugh Gumbs came on for Hanogue on 55 minutes, taking up the centre position and allowing Holland to return to his flanker role. ‘Ensians were now defending for long periods as Rishworthians used the ball in their backs and then re-cycled through their powerful back row. The visitors’ defence took a battering, but in mid-field, Ratahi, Gumbs and Kristian Keinhorst were up to the task. Gumbs had two powerful runs up the middle and then from his own 22 he set off up the touchline and bounced off two defenders before being finally tackled in the opposition half. Arbuckle was having a fine game with some strong runs from defence, but to often the support was slow and the ball was turned over.

Apart from two long-distance penalty attempts, Rishworthians never really threatened to increase their score, but they did keep ‘Ensians pinned down in their own half for long periods. A good break up-field by Arbuckle was probably the visitors’ best chance, but the pass went astray and Rishworthians scraped home by 20 points to 19.

Being 16 – 5 up in the first half, ‘Ensians looked to be reasonably placed, but allowing in two tries in the space of four minutes as half time approached put them on the back foot and they never really recovered from this setback. Liberal refereeing too often allowed the robust home pack to dictate terms and attacking opportunities in the second half were limited. Credit must go to ‘Ensians for their spirited and courageous defence in the second half, but the lapses in the first period meant that against the elements and a lively opposition pack, they were always going to struggle to get back in front.

 

OLD OTLIENSIANS A 23 – BARNSLEY A 36

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In this Merit Table encounter, ‘Ensians played with the gale-force wind in the first half and got off to a good start with a penalty by fly half Matt Tenniswood in the fourth minute. The home side continued to dominate as Barnsley tried to settle and flanker Dale Kennedy backed up well to go over on 7 minutes with a further try by centre Andy Hayward two minutes later after good work by scrum half Ben Smith and good interplay between the backs. Both conversion attempts from wide out failed.

As Barnsley came more into the game, it was clear that they had some talented players and the back row of Richard Crossley, Dale Kennedy and Alan Garnett had to defend resolutely to snuff out attacks. Matt Tenniswood kept the opposition pinned in their own half with long raking kicks and from a subsequent ruck, good backing up by Crossley saw the ball quickly moved wide where Andy Hayward went over in the corner for his second. Although the conversions failed, the home side had built an 18 – 0 lead after 23 minutes. Matt Tenniswood again gained ground with a long kick and with good lineout ball from Alan Garnett, scrum half Ben Smith made a good break, but as the ball was re-cycled and a score imminent, a penalty went to Barnsley for not releasing. Soon afterwards, young winger Liam Copping was rewarded for a good chase when he gathered the ball and went in at the corner after 30 minutes taking the score to 23 – 0 to the home side.

At this stage, Barnsley stepped up the pace and their good interpassing took play well into the ‘Ensians’ half. The home defence became panicky and, following a series of penalties, Barnsley went over wide out on 34 minutes. Now with their tails up, Barnsley continued to attack through forwards and backs and persistent infringements by ‘Ensians coupled with some sloppy tackling let the visitors in for a second try. Although neither try was converted, it meant that ‘Ensians turned round with a far from comfortable lead of 23 – 10.

After the break, Barnsley used the elements to gain ground and ‘Ensians had to defend for the first ten minutes against repeated attacks. Barnsley were penalised for crossing and Tenniswood cleared the line, but the relief was only temporary as Barnsley drove over after 53 minutes. Pressure brought another try from the visitors on 62 minutes and with the conversion, ‘Ensians found themselves only one point in front at 23 – 22. Home centres Dominic Oddy and Hayward worked hard to try and take play upfield, but when moves broke down, Barnsley were very quick to work a turnover and boot the ball back downfield. Richard Crossley made a try-saving tackle, but persistent pressure from Barnsley produced two more converted tries on 62 and 66 minutes taking the score to 23 – 29.

Locks Andy Wood and Mark Copping battled hard in the loose with good support from the front row of Ben Newall, Steve Robinson and Tom Twist, but Barnsley now scented victory and kept play deep in the ‘Ensians half with long kicks. A mistake by the home side in mid-field saw Barnsley race away for their final try under the posts. The conversion lifted the score in their favour to 23 – 36 on 72 minutes. ‘Ensians came back into the attack and took play within ten yards of the Barnsley line before a knock-on brought things to halt.

For the last few minutes the home side tried to put moves together, but the Barnsley defence held to give them victory by 36 points to 23. In an entertaining game in difficult conditions, ‘Ensians established a good lead only to appear to take the foot off the pedal towards the end of the first half. Against a competent side and a raging gale, their lead was not enough and Barnsley put some decent rugby together against an ‘Ensians side which never gave up.


 

 

 

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