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The defeat of League leaders Harrogate Pythons by Old Grovians helped ‘Ensians move up to third place in Yorkshire 4 after an entertaining and comprehensive victory over local rivals Wetherby. Despite the winning margin, the hosts did not have it all their own way for the first 30 minutes with the robust Wetherby pack making its presence felt and the home back division taking time to settle. The home side had to defend against some lively attacks by the visitors before producing more of their trademark open play to come out well on top.

The exchanges were fairly even for the first quarter with Wetherby using their big forwards to make progress and their wily experienced scrum half sniping round the breakdowns at every opportunity. The home front row of Ben Copley, Ross Myers and Greg Jones held their own in the scrums and locks Lee O’Donnell and Ali Campbell secured good ball in the lineouts. Although half backs Ieuan Cranswick and Johnny Ratahi tried to get their backs away at every opportunity, handling outside them was nervous and the visitors jumped on these errors to counter-attack.

With ‘Ensians backs looking sharper, they made progress into the visitors’ 22 and centre Will Foster landed a penalty on 16 minutes. With the home backs now beginning to put things together, centre Tobias Gill made a good break up field, offloaded to the support and then took the return pass to go over near the posts for a fine try. The conversion by Foster moved the score to 10 – 0 on 26 minutes.

Wetherby responded with a penalty on 30 minutes, but the home backs were now in full flow as Ratahi, Foster and winger Luke Cowdell troubled the visitors’ defence. Full back Kristian Keinhorst came into the line and after slick hands between forwards and backs, replacement lock Alan Harker dived over half way out. Foster’s conversion took the score to 17 – 3 at the break.

The home backs showed their intent from the re-start by shredding the opposition defence to take play up to the Wetherby line. Foster converted a penalty and then centre-turned-lock Lee O’Donnell was on hand to finish off good interplay with a well worked try. Foster added the extras to give the hosts a 27 – 3 lead on 51 minutes.

Luke Freer came on at fly half allowing Ratahi to move into the centre for the injured Foster. A series of attacks took play up to the Wetherby line where prop Ben Copley forced his way through for the next try on 63 minutes. Four minutes later winger Luke Cowdell first baffled and then out-paced the defence for a well-deserved score converted by Keinhorst to stretch the lead to 39 – 3 on 67 minutes.

With the back row of Dale Kennedy, Rob Arbuckle and Sam Featherstone regularly turning ball over, the home back division was now in total control, but delayed or over-elaborate passing squandered several opportunities. After good work by winger Josh Howarth and replacement hooker Rob Lyon, lock Ali Campbell broke away to show his pace three minutes later with a try wide out. Keinhorst’s conversion took the score to 46 – 3 on 73 minutes.

With the home side keen to break the “50” barrier, some over-enthusiastic passing in the visitors’ 22 presented Wetherby with an interception opportunity which they gladly took to make the final score 46 – 10 to the hosts.

This was another spirited and entertaining performance from ‘Ensians who will face sterner tests ahead as they join the battle for promotion.

‘Ensians 2nd lost 44 – 14 to Huddersfield YMCA 3rds in their Merit League with two tries coming from Steve Grundy.