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OORUFC 1stXV 8 pts vs Bramley Phoenix 31 pts

Otliensians 1stXV beaten by Bramley Phoenix
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Any hopes that ‘Ensians might have a settled side were dashed with two late backwords bringing in Hugh Gumbs at lock and Dale Kennedy at flanker. With the visitors having held League leaders Roundhegians to a 5 - all draw recently, the home side knew they would have to pull all the stops out to come out on top. They got off to a promising start when they took play into the Bramley half through strong runs from centres John Ratahi and Will Foster. The scrum was sound with the front row of Phil Cook, Rob Lyon and Tony Myers having the edge on their opposite numbers and half backs Sam Clewes and Mark Coultas made good use of the quality ball.

Gumbs and skipper James Duggan were to the fore in some powerful driving mauls which took play up to the Bramley line. Cook and Grey went close and when the ball was spun wide, Foster and winger Richard Goakes were pulled down just short. The home side battered the line for some fifteen minutes, but try as they might, they could not engineer a score. The visitors gradually began to get some ball and showed that they had a back division which could pose problems. On 23 minutes, winger Goakes injured his back in a tackle and play stopped for four minutes whilst he received attention. Fortunately, the injury was not as serious as it first appeared, but Goakes left the field with Andy Hayward moving onto the wing and Ben Smith coming on at flanker.

The stoppage seemed to produce a fall-off in momentum for ‘Ensians and they could not get back into the dominant territorial position they had enjoyed earlier. Duggan and Kennedy produced good lineout ball, but the Bramley defence was now better organised and centres Foster and Ratahi found progress difficult. Spilled ball in the midfield was snapped up by the speedy Bramley backs and good interpassing produced a try half way out against the run of play. The conversion put the hosts behind at 7 – 0 on 31 minutes. Before ‘Ensians had chance to settle, Bramley, now gaining in confidence all the time, put together another slick move which put their winger over in the corner on 36 minutes and, despite having the edge in possession and territory, the hosts found themselves 12 – 0 down at half time.

The home side started the second period with renewed vigour and the back row of Smith, Rob Grey and Kennedy foraged well for the ball and produced two good turnovers. Home centre Foster chased a long kick downfield and charged down the attempted clearance kick to follow up with a skilful piece of footwork to touch down for a well-deserved try. Although the conversion failed, ‘Ensians were now very much back in the game at 12 – 5 on 46 minutes.

The home scrum was now well in control and driving mauls once more took play into the Bramley 22 where Kennedy, Gumbs and Clewes went close. Unfortunately, chances wide out went begging too often when kicks were preferred to keeping the ball in hand. When the visitors transgressed, Will Foster converted a penalty to narrow the gap to 12 – 8 in the Leeds side’s favour on 64 minutes. With skipper Duggan and his forwards now in rampant mood, they drove into the opposition half and attacked the line again and for several minutes it looked as though ‘Ensians could snatch the lead. However, too often wrong options meant that the solid Bramley defence was able to re-group and clear their line with long kicks.

As is often the case when trying to play catch-up rugby, risky passes and speculative chips ahead fell into opposition hands in space and the pacey Bramley backs took their chances with some enterprising play from deep to score twice on 75 and 77 minutes to lift the score in their favour to 24 – 8. In the final minute, ‘Ensians launched one more attack, but a stron tackle and spilled ball in the visitors’ 22 saw their powerful centre set up a long-range move to produce a final try under the posts to take the score to 31 – 8 to the visitors.

This was a game where the hosts should have had two tries in the first ten minutes, but they could not fashion ways of breaching the Bramley defence, whereas when the visitors spotted opportunities, quick thinking set up scoring situations through moving the ball at pace. To their credit, ‘Ensians put together some decent passages of play and they were very much in the game until ten minutes from time, but they will have to continue to work on ways of capitalising on possession and territory.



OORUFC 3rdXV vs Wharfedale

Bramley Phoenix 007
Otliensians 3rdXV beat Wharfedale by 3 unanswered tries.
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