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OLD OTLIENSIANS A 48 – LEODIENSIAN A 0

With few games being played locally due to frost and snow, the ‘Ensians’ well-grassed playing area provided a firm surface for their first match of 2010. With a pair of very tall locks, the visitors started well with a good supply of ball from the lineouts and they took play into the home 22. Several promising attacks came to nothing through strong tackling from home flankers Richard Crossley and James Kear backed up by centres Dale Kennedy and Tom Carroll.

A move broke down in mid-field and the ball was snapped up by Kennedy who shot through a gap and made ground into the Leos 22 before off-loading to the supporting Crossley and prop Ben Newall. They in turn moved the ball to the wing where Darren Cooley went over in the corner. A fine conversion by fly half Matt Tenniswood gave the home side a 7 – 0 lead on 5 minutes. Leos had a competent back division and they applied more pressure to force the home side to concede a penalty in their own 22. Unexpectedly, the easy kick went wide and the home side once more went into the attack through Tenniswood, Kennedy and Carroll. The ball was spun wide and prop Rob Lyon, on his way back from an earlier breakdown, linked up with winger Ben Smith on the end of the line to go over in the corner on 15 minutes.

Three minutes later student Tom Carroll showed his pace by slicing through in the centre to score half way out. The conversion by Tenniswood stretched the lead to 19 – 0 to ‘Ensians on 18 minutes. Having command of the lineouts, Leos were soon back in the attack and their forwards and backs combined well to produce several gilt-edged scoring opportunities. Unfortunately for them, either final passes went astray or the firm tackling of full back Sean Flesher brought the move to halt. In the ‘Ensians pack, lock Sam Gray carved open the defence twice with powerful runs with fellow-lock Mark Copping and hooker Ross Myers leading some good drives to set up several promising attacking positions.

The home side had more pace in the backs and Carroll was always creating space and opportunities. On 37 minutes, quick ball from half backs Sam Clewes and Matt Tenniswood put Carroll into space and he ghosted through for his second try. Tenniswood added the extras to make the score a comfortable 26 – 0 at the break.

For the restart, lock Alan Harker, centre Steve Grundy and flanker Toby Baltrop came on for Sam Gray, Darren Cooley and James Kear respectively, but these changes did not disrupt the steady flow of ball to the home backs. In the scrums, the ‘Ensians front row of Rob Lyon, Ross Myers and Ben Newall had the edge on their bigger opponents and the lively home backs were a constant threat to Leos. Centre Steve Grundy made a fine break and slipped the ball to No.8 Alan Garnett on the visitors’ 22 who charged forward before offloading to experienced flanker Richard Crossley who galloped over under the posts for an excellent try. The conversion by Tenniswood lifted the score to 33 – 0 on 44 minutes.

Despite the score line, the visitors continued to put together some good passages of play, but full back Flesher competently dealt with kicks-through as well as pulling of some crucial tackles. The pace of Carroll was again in evidence when he beat three defenders and went over for his hat trick. Now trailing by 38 – 0, the Leeds side were undaunted and continued to attack through both forwards and backs, applying spells of serious pressure, but the home defence held. The fresh legs of Alan Harker and Toby Baltrop produced some strong runs and when the ball was move wide, Dale Kennedy was on hand to go over in the corner. The difficult conversion failed, taking the score to 43 – 0 on 59 minutes.

Leos showed no sign of giving up and they once again took play into the’ Ensians’ half only to find that strong tackles and indifferent final passes frustratingly spoiled several scoring opportunities. With the clock ticking towards the final whistle, replacement flanker Rob Grey made good ground before linking up with Alan Harker who outpaced the cover in a 30 yard charge to the line. The conversion shaved the post to leave the final score at 48 – 0 to the home side.

In this very fast and entertaining game, credit must go to Leos for their spirited open play and for battling away right until the final whistle, certainly, with better finishing, they would have been on the score sheet. For their part, ‘Ensians had the livelier pack and pace outside to produce a very convincing performance.