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OLD OTLIENSIANS 0 pts vs Roundhegians 61 pts

Liam breaks a tackle
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Due to serious shortage of front row players, ‘Ensians had to start this contest with uncontested scrums. On a sticky playing surface, ‘Ensians were the first to attack through good interplay between forwards and backs. Making his debut at scrum half, student Ben Richards linked well with fly half Dominic Oddy and centres Dave Smith and Steve Grundy were soon making ground up the middle. With two massive centres, the home side provided a formidable defence and when a pass went astray, they scooped up the ball and drove play into the visitors’ 22. An infringement allowed the hosts to take a 3 – 0 lead with a penalty on 8 minutes.

From the re-start, the Roundhegians pack set about the visitors and quickly re-cycled ball gave their powerful back division plenty of opportunities. Despite good defensive work by the back row of Richard Crossley, Alan Garnett and Dominic Birkin, the strong running home centres carved several openings and three tries were scored in the space of 12 minutes. With two conversions, ‘Ensians found themselves trailing 20 – 0 after 21minutes.

After words from skipper Ben Smith, the visitors rose to the challenge and started using good lineout ball from Garnett and Ben Smith to mount attacks, bringing wingers Tom Broadbent and Andy Hayward into play. From a ruck in the home 22, quick ball from Oddy and Dave Smith gave Steve Grundy space and he jinked round three defenders to score a fine try half way out. The conversion by Dave Smith took the score to a more respectable 20 – 7 on 25 minutes.

Former first team skipper Richard Smith and lock Chris Howells, returning from injury, showed the way with some powerful drives and for the next 10 minutes the visitors put together some very useful phases of play. Unfortunately, a mis-directed kick ahead saw the home full back evade several tackles to set up a well-worked try as half-time approached to take the score to 27 – 7 to Roundhegians at the break.

For the second half, Josh Howarth came on at flanker for Dominic Birkin, Sam Castledine took over at full back from Sean Flesher and Anthony Ball moved onto the wing in place of Tom Broadbent. Almost from the kick-off, centre Dave Smith broke the line and sent a floated pass over a defender into the welcoming hands of Steve Grundy who raced twenty five yards to beat the cover to score an excellent try in the corner on 42 minutes. The conversion failed reducing the home side’s lead to 27 – 12.

Stirred by this setback, Roundhegians went straight back into attack and the visiting defence worked hard through Oddy, Dave Smith and Grundy to stop the powerful surges from the home centres. Inevitably, holes appeared and good backing up produced three further tries in the next 17 minutes for the hosts to take their lead to 48 – 12 on 70 minutes.

Undaunted by the margin, ‘Ensians mounted spirited counter-attacks through Crossley and Ben Smith. Newcomer Sam Castledine at full back joined in the line and winger Anthony Ball had a mazy 40 yard run up the middle. From broken play, Ben Smith snapped up the ball and set off up the touchline on a 30 yard run before he offloaded to Josh Howarth who touched down half way out. Dave Smith added the extras making the score 48 – 19 on 74 minutes.

Roundhegians had the last word when their winger finished off a good move in the corner to produce a final score, lifting the tally to 53 – 19 in their favour. Despite being outweighed in the pack and facing centres who took a lot of stopping when they got into their stride, ‘Ensians competed well throughout and were unlucky not to have another couple of tries. In an open and entertaining game, the visitors gave a spirited performance against a very competent and organised Roundhegians side.