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Due to unavailability and injuries, ‘Ensians took the field with five members of the previous week’s successful team absent and they particularly missed their two lineout experts. Fighting to keep clear of the relegation zone, the visitors proved to be tough opposition and, from building what seemed to be a comfortable lead mid way through the second half, the hosts ended up struggling as the massive ‘Boro pack began to dominate.

With the breeze in their favour, the home side soon pushed deep into Knaresborough territory, but normally reliable kicker Kristian Keinhorst had a bad start by missing two penalties in the first four minutes. However, good forward play put No.8 Lee O’Donnell over in the corner after 6 minutes for a 5 – 0 advantage.

In the scrums, the home front row of Tom Twist, Ben Tetley and Toby Barltrop found it hard-going against their bigger opponents. Although they generally managed to secure their own ball, possession was untidy and half backs Ieuan Cranswick and Keinhorst struggled to get the ball away, often leaving centres Joshua Howarth and Dale Kennedy with no room to manoeuvre against a tight defence.

Despite trying various options in the lineouts, ‘Ensians were starved of quality ball, but lively wingers Declan Jackson and Josh Hebditch managed to make ground from the limited chances which came their way. The visitors’ backs made little headway against a tight defence and they began to rely more and more on rolling mauls from their massive pack. Although they threatened on occasions, ‘Ensians were unable to add to their early try and went into the break with the 5 – 0 lead.

In the second half the hosts began to get more ball through the scavenging efforts of the back row of Sam Featherstone, Lee O’Donnell and Tom Dyson. The young lively backs tested the ‘Boro defence and on 44 minutes winger Josh Hebditch beat his opponent to score a fine try half way out. Ten minutes later centre Josh Howarth slipped past his opposite number to add a further try. Neither was converted, but the hosts now had a 15 – 0 lead on 55 minutes.

Knaresborough were making little progress through their backs and decided to use the rolling maul every time the ball came their way. With prop Tom Twist injured and replacement Dale Kennedy the subject of a yellow card for offside, the home forwards struggled to halt the visitors’ pack as it trundled downfield. The tactic paid off as the hosts were regularly penalised for pulling the mauls down and Knaresborough drove over for a converted try on 63 minutes, narrowing the deficit to 15 – 7.

Just as it looked as if this score would remain, a long kick gave the visitors a lineout in the home 22 and once more their pack delivered with a converted try to allow the home side a narrow lead of 15 – 14 as the final whistle went.

Disrupted by many changes, ‘Ensians found it hard-going with their kicker having a rare off-day and their pack struggling to get hardly any clean ball. Their backs defended well and made the most of limited attacking opportunities to scrape home by the slenderest of margins.

‘Ensians 2nd XV drew 10 all in their Merit League match away against neighbours
Baildon with a try from winger Dan Ball and a conversion and a penalty from fly half Matt Tenniswood.