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Fielding a strong team ‘Ensians were disappointed to find on their arrival that the Halifax side could not raise a front row and that the game would feature uncontested scrums from the outset. In the event, this did not affect a very competitive open game, played at the start in perfect conditions and much more evenly-contested than the final score would suggest.

The early exchanges were fairly even, but the visitors had an advantage in the lineouts through flanker Dominic Birkin winning plenty of clean ball. A strong run by centre John Ratahi split the home defence and hooker Jim Dyson was on hand to take the pass and beat the last two defenders to open the scoring with an excellent try on 12 minutes.

Making one of his rare appearances, the experienced Dave Smith gave an assured performance at full back and through coming into the line at opportune moments, the visitors’ efforts yielded two quick tries through winger James Davies and No.8 Matt Taylor to stretch the lead to 17 – 0 on 31 minutes.

The hosts replied with their own well-worked try before centre Lee O’Donnell, who was causing problems for the home defence with his strong running, broke through for a try near the posts to give the visitors a comfortable 24 – 7 lead at the break with two conversions coming from fly half Matt Tenniswood.

Early in the second half they increased their lead when hooker Jim Dyson, who was outstanding in the loose, secured the ball and burst through to score his second try. Vandals then responded to take play into the visitors’22 and, despite some stern defence, their pressure was rewarded with an unconverted try to move the score to 31 – 12 on 59 minutes.

At this stage the weather changed and the remainder of the game was played in heavy rain. John Ratahi intercepted in mid-field and completed his run with a try under the posts and shortly before full-time, lock Ross Nichols crossed for a try to complete the scoring. Two further conversion from Matt Tenniswood lifted the final score 45 – 12.

This very satisfactory victory for Otliensians 2nds keeps their Merit Table promotion hopes alive, but credit must go the disappointed hosts who never gave up.

With a blank League week ’Ensians Coach John Walker took the opportunity to rest several 1st XV players carrying injuries in readiness for a return to League action at home to Halifax next Saturday.