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Old Otliensians 30 vs Garforth 8
 Garforth 007
Sam Gray scores an early 5 points for Ensians

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Having suffered double defeats against Garforth last season, ‘Ensians were keen to turn the tables and they attacked from the start through half backs Tim Rushfirth and John Ratahi. Within two minutes Captain Sam Gray was pulled down five yards short after good work by centres Carlos Hassan and Dom Oddy. However, on 6 minutes good support play put No.8 Gray over in the corner to establish a 5 – 0 lead.

Garforth responded strongly using the breeze to push play into the home 22. The hosts defended well with flankers Sam Featherstone and Lee O’Donnell putting in some fine tackles. Eventually, pressure told and the visiting forwards forced their way over. Although the try went unconverted, Garforth took the lead at 8 – 5 with a penalty two minutes later.

With the home side’s front row of Ross Myers, James Kear and Tom Twist gradually having the edge on their bigger opponents, a good supply of ball put ‘Ensians back on the attack. Winger Toby Gillatt carved open the defence with a weaving run up the left and just when the defence seemed to corner him, he wriggled away to score wide out on 24 minutes to give the home side a 10 – 8 advantage.

In the lineouts Sam Featherstone and lock Alan Harker were obtaining quality possession and the home back line put together some enterprising play with Hassan confidently orchestrating proceedings. In the pack, newcomer James Findlay foraged hard alongside fellow lock Harker to make inroads into Garforth territory to keep up the pressure. On 37 minutes the visitors strayed offside and full back Kristian Keinhorst increased the lead to 13 – 8. Recycled ball allowed Hassan and Oddy to put debut winger Stuart Cockburn over half way out. Keinhorst added the points to give the hosts a 20 – 8 lead at half time.

From the re-start, ‘Ensians continued where they left off stretching the Garforth defence with some confident handling. Good interplay by forwards Gray, Findlay and hooker Kear saw winger Cockburn up in support to dive over in the corner for his second try on 43 minutes to lift the score to 25 – 8. Unfortunately, a bang on the face caused the scorer to leave the field with Josh Howarth coming on as replacement.

The home side were now in almost continuous attack, but progress was stifled by what appeared to be a one-sided interpretation of the breakdown laws by the referee. Frustration grew and penalties followed which kept Garforth in the game. On half way, fly half Ratahi made one of his trademark breaks and good support put winger Gillatt away again. Although the Garforth cover was there in numbers, Gillatt weaved and twisted his way out of tackles to go over for his second. Keinhorst’s convertion attempt narrowly missed to take the score to 30 – 8 on 54 minutes.

Scrum half Tim Rushfirth had to go off with a leg injury with Sam Featherstone deputising with Richard Paley filling the flanker berth and Ben Newall replacing Sam Gray in the pack. Despite the changes, ‘Ensians continued to create space and opportunities, but the visitors buckled down and defended well for long periods. As the final whistle approached, Garforth worked their way into the home 22 to pressure the defence. When a try looked certain, Gillatt pulled off a superb tackle on the line and Lee O’Donnell held up the would-be scorer as he went over leaving the final score at 30 – 8.

In this bonus-point win, ‘Ensians can be pleased with a much improved performance based on a good solid effort from the pack and some enterprising play from the back division. However, they will be aiming to step up a gear in the tough away encounter next Saturday against last season’s promotion contenders, Bramley Phoenix.