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After coming close in the past three weeks, ‘Ensians finally pulled off a well-deserved victory in a fiercely-fought contest on a ground where they have rarely tasted success in past years. Although the game was untidy at times, the visitors were by far the better organised side and they were unlucky not to score two or three more tries.

Corinthians set the pace early on through possession from their big pack, but good defence in midfield through centres John Burns and Sam Gray stifled any threats. In the scrums the front row of Toby Barltrop, Rob Lyon and Tony Myers worked hard against their heavier opponents, but possession was scrappy and Rob Lofthouse did well to cope with difficult ball. In the lineouts Sam Featherstone and Alan Harker also held their own.

After some forceful runs by locks Rob Arbuckle and Alan Harker and wingers Michael Philpott and Josh Howarth, the hosts transgressed and Keinhorst converted the penalty for a 3 – 0 lead on 16 minutes. The Leeds side came back strongly with some astute kicking from their fly half and they levelled the score with a penalty on 25 minutes.

Centre Sam Gray made a good break, but was hauled down after a 60 yard run. The visiting back row of Dale Kennedy, Lee O’Donnell and Sam Featherstone foraged and tackled well, but clean ball was often hampered by the referee’s failure to penalise offences at the rucks. Pressure told and when the home side infringed, Keinhorst regained the lead with a well-struck penalty to make the score 6 – 3 to the visitors at the break.

‘Ensians started briskly in the second half with scrum half Rob Lofthouse making a clean break, he chipped over the full back, but he was unlucky with the bounce and Corinthians managed the scramble the ball away. The visitors were well on top at this stage with replacement flanker Richard Crossley making his presence felt with non-stop tackling.

Keinhorst stretched the lead to 9 – 3 with another penalty on 52 minutes and then good work up the left flank saw Gray go over only to be called back for a foot in touch. Corinthians were still very much in the game, but strong defence by both forwards and backs meant there was no way through. On one of the rare occasions when the hosts were penalised for offending at the ruck, Keinhorst struck another fine penalty to move the score to 12 – 3 to the visitors on 63 minutes.

The home side were far from finished and they mounted a series of attacks using their hefty pack, but again determined defence by ‘Ensians kept the line clear. Good use of the boot by Keinhorst took play into the opponents’ half and quick ball saw scrum half Rob Lofthouse nip through a gap and outpace the cover the score an excellent try wide out. Although the conversion failed, the visitors now had 17 – 3 lead on 76 minutes.

The hosts made one final attempt to batter their way through, but ‘Ensians were having none of it and winger Philpott made a decisive run out of defence to relieve
the pressure. Against a side always difficult to beat on their home turf, ‘Ensians deservedly came out on top though better organisation and determined defence.