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On a rare visit to Vandals when the sun shone, ‘Ensians had enough possession and territory to have won this game, but occasional lapses in handling and defence cost them dearly. Playing with the slope against a stiff breeze, the visitors gained ground with good drives from locks Brett Tenniswood and Mark Copping allowing half backs Richard Crossley and Matt Tenniswood to open out play at every opportunity.

Despite some good runs from centre Carlos Hassan and winger Josh Howarth, the home defence held and the experienced Halifax fly half used his boot and the wind to push ‘Ensians back into their 22. An infringement brought a penalty for the hosts on 17 minutes and then their centre danced through several tackles for a converted try on 26 minutes. A further penalty gave Vandals a 13 – 0 lead on 34 minutes.

The visitors’ front row of Peter Bonner, Ross Myers and Michael Groves had the edge on their opponents, but the scrum was often unsteady and No.8 Andy Bower and scrum half Crossley frequently had to deal with untidy ball. Forceful driving from Bonner, Bower and flankers Alan Garnett and Sam Featherstone took play up to the Halifax line. After Myers and Brett Tenniswood came close, flanker Featherstone forced his way over near the corner on 38 minutes. A long-range penalty from Vandals took the half time score to 16 – 5 in their favour.

The home side used the boot and the slope to establish themselves in the ‘Ensians 22 from the re-start and, after a series of rolling mauls, their flanker sneaked round the blindside to score wide out, stretching their lead to 21 – 5 on 44 minutes.

The visitors then began to command possession through solid scrummaging and good lineout ball from Brett Tenniswood and Sam Featherstone. In mid-field centres Hassan and Andy Hayward were testing the home defence and winger Peter Tempest was tackled into the corner flag. Unfortunately during one attack a reverse-pass move broke down and Vandals backs snapped up the ball in space to put their winger over in the corner against the run of play, taking their advantage to 26 – 5 on 61 minutes.

Ross Nichols replaced flanker Garnett and ‘Ensians went straight back into the attack, camping in the home 22. The visiting pack battered the home line and Crossley and Nichols were held up short. Vandals offended and from tap penalties the visiting forwards again bombarded the line, with two claims for tries being disallowed. Eventually, after strong drives from Bonner and Copping, flanker Featherstone dived in for his second to make the final score 26 – 10 to Vandals.

‘Ensians gave a spirited display and had the opportunity to win this contest, but lapses in concentration and an adverse penalty count eventually took their toll.