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Bramley Phoenix 42 pts vs OORUFC 1stXV 5 pts

A game of two halves:
After recent weeks of disappointing losses, Ensians were away at Yorkshire 3 side Bramley. At a home fixture months ago, Ensians dominated the game but couldn’t take advantage and lost.

Ensians made several changes with Toby Gillett on the wing, Number 8 Matt Taylor and Lee O’Donnell at centre. Ensians started the game the brighter of the two sides and with good decision making kept Bramley pinned within their own half. However, with ball in hand, players failed to use their three man overlap, allowing Bramley scrappy possession of which they were able to break away deep within their own half and score a converted try totally against the run of play.

Ensians started from the kick off and for the next ten minutes they tried unsuccessfully to drive through the Bramley defence. Ensians were awarded many penalties for various infringements and were now winning all scrums and line outs but were unfortunately unable to capitalise on this. Again whilst in possession, they lost the ball deep within the Bramley 22. Good interplay by the experienced Bramley back line almost led to Ensians conceding yet another try.

However, good defensive work by Johnny R, Lee O’Donnell and Kristian Keinhorst stopped Bramley from advancing. Ensians were awarded a penalty within their own 22. However, they were unable to find touch with their kick and in doing so conceded a very soft try. Bramley 12, Ensians 0.

Ensians continued to dominate the half and again pressed the Bramley line. Grey, Myers, R Myers, Lyons, Bonner and Heywood all made attempts to cross the whitewash. The pressure did however take its toll in the end and on broken play Coultas threw a wide pass to Johnny R who was able to slice open the Bramley defence to score.

Ensians had three more attempts but were unable to make the final pass, making the Half-time score Bramley 14, Ensians 5.

With the weather worsening and light diminishing, Ensians turned round against a strong breeze. Again, they started the half the brighter of the two sides and whilst on the attack lost possession of which Bramley capitalised, racing 40 metres to score. Silly errors continued and in good field positions Ensians lost possession far too easily. This led to Bramley scoring further tries, all of which were converted. The game ended Bramley 42, Ensians 5.

Ensians were unfortunate to concede so many points. However, Bramley are to be congratulated on winning with only 30% of the games possession. Ensians were far superior in set play but never seemed to capitalise on their advantage.

Ensians this week have a rearranged home fixture against Northallerton.



Looking forward to playing on the Cross Green pitch, ‘Ensians arrived to find that due to last minute backwords, Otley could only muster 9 players. In typical 3rd XV tradition, Dave Beardsley, Tom Broadbent and James Seals sportingly volunteered to play for the opposition and a twelve-a-side game was organised on the big pitch, perhaps not an enticing situation for many of those present.

With a shortage of front row players, scrums were uncontested from the off and Otley soon showed that they had power and experience in their pack when it came to mauling. However, problems arose for them when young visiting half backs Sam Castledine and Dominic Oddy got their back line moving. The pace of centres Steve Grundy and Graham Bentley told and slick passing along the line put winger Steve Lofthouse over in the corner on 5 minutes.

Although the Viscounts’ bulky pack worked hard at close quarters, their progress was nullified by excellent tackling from Toby Baltrop, Richard Paley and Josh Howarth playing in the front row. Behind them, Dale Kennedy and Dave Smith flattened anyone who came round the side and, with help from No. 8 Alan Garnett, they managed to turn over ball at regular intervals.

The supply of quick ball from the half backs meant that the visiting backs had acres of room to work in and experienced centre Graham Bentley and his speedy partner Steve Grundy combined well together to produce four excellent tries for Grundy before the break. With two conversion from Sam Castledine, the score at half time was 29 – 0 to the visitors.

After the interval, Otley used their power and weight to battle upfield, but turnover ball was quickly re-cycled and Bentley cut through the middle to go over from 50 yards, with Castledine converting. Jamie Chapple’s men then began to put some organised phases of play together and ‘Ensians found themselves defending. Full back Sean Flesher covered well and tackled soundly with strong support from Steve Lofthouse.

Despite progressing to within 10 yards of the line, Otley could not breach the ‘Ensians defence and once more turnover ball sent the visiting backs racing down the field. Good handling by Oddy, Smith, Howarth and Kennedy put full back Flesher away down the wing to go over in the corner on 50 minutes. Three minutes later quick hands by Howarth, Paley and Oddy sent skipper Alan Garnett galloping down the middle to score a well-worked try under the posts.

Viscounts were far from finished and their best chance came on 58 minutes when they drove upfield to the visitors’ line and brought their half-backs into action. Instead of choosing the wider option, they came back inside where Dave Smith and Dale Kennedy were waiting to snuff out the move. From the turnover, again, Oddy, Bentley and Grundy found themselves in space and, in a length-of-the-field move, Grundy went over for his fifth. As the final whistle approached, good interplay between forwards and backs saw Lofthouse pass inside to Garnett for the final try. Three more conversions by Castledine lifted the final score to 62 – 0 to the visitors.

As usual with these encounters, the game was played in an excellent spirit under the stewardship of referee Derek Smith and all credit must go to Viscounts for battling away until the end. ‘Ensians were fortunate in having a side containing a number of “old hands” and some very quick youngsters who played fast basic rugby. This combination and the overall pace of the visitors proved too much for Otley.