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Knaresbrough 357
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On a hot afternoon with two props and a young fly half making their debuts, ‘Ensians got off to a flying start with half backs Rob Lofthouse and Tobias Gill setting their backs in motion at every opportunity. The hosts had no answer to the pace of the visitors’ three quarters with three tries coming in the first half and then six more after the break. When the score climbed to 54 – 0, ‘Ensians took the foot off the gas and allowed the home side to run in two tries in the last 15 minutes.

After a struggle for clean possession the previous week, the strengthened front row of Greg Jones, Ross Myers and Ben Copley provided a serious challenge to the much heavier Knaresborough pack, as well as excelling in the loose. Good backing up and re-cycling saw flanker Sam Featherstone dive over on 7 minutes and rampaging No.8 Rob Arbuckle followed up with another on 12 minutes, with one conversion by experienced full back Will Foster.

Prop Ben Copley showed off his handling and carrying skills and replacement flanker Simon Hill made some powerful drives. A good break by centre Johnny Ratahi sent fellow centre Luke Cowdell bursting up the middle for the third try and Foster’s conversion took the visitors’ lead to 19 – 0 at half time.

With the heavier home pack tiring, the visiting backs showed pace and good support play to run in two more tries by winger Declan Jackson and a third by scrum half Rob Lofthouse, who was a constant thorn in the hosts’ side with his sniping breaks round the scrums. All were converted by Foster to stretch the lead to 40 – 0 on 50 minutes.

The home side’s main attacking ploy was the rolling maul, but after gaining some ground in their early attempts, the visiting pack then responded well with Rob Arbuckle, Simon Hill, props Jones and Copley and replacement hooker Rob Lyon bringing things to a halt. Several Knaresborough re-starts were caught by prop and former scrum half Ben Copley who spun out long passes to put the visiting backs away. In the lineouts locks Steve Wade, Ali Campbell and flanker Feathersone competed well against taller opposition to provide good ball for their lively back division.

Prop Ben Copley rounded off a fine display with a try on 55 minutes and Simon Hill went over on 62 minutes to stretch the visitors’ lead to 54 – 0 with the trusty boot of Will Foster adding the conversions. At this stage, play became scrappy as the hosts stepped up their efforts and managed to get the two or three competent players in their back division into the game. Bad marking gifted them a converted try on 67 minutes, but ‘Ensians responding with a sweeping move to set up centre Luke Cowdell for his second on 74 minutes. The home side had the final say with a well-worked try on 77 minutes to take the final score to 61 – 14 to the visitors.

This was a fine all-round performance by ‘Ensians based on a solid effort from the pack and some enterprising play by their young back division. Tobias Gill made a sound debut at fly half and, in the post-game get-together, newcomer Ben Copley, who had impressed throughout, was rightly nominated as man-of-the-match and applauded by both teams.

The 2nd XV had a good 33 – 14 away win against Leodiensians 3rds. Scorers were: tries - Luke Freer, Das Cooley, Ben Smith and two tries and four conversions from Matt Tenniswood,