On a wet afternoon 'Ensians were faced with a greasy, muddy pitch which was far from ideal for their expansive style of rugby. The home side were all set to show the League leaders a thing or two and a try in each half and two penalties meant they led the way for most of the game. The visitors struggled in the scrums and on the greasy surface their speedy backs found the going difficult. Nevertheless, they managed to stay in touch with the opposition score and forced their way over for the crucial try with 6 minutes to go following it up with a penalty three minutes later to seal the victory.
From the kick-off the heavier home pack took play into the visitors' 22 and desperate defence was needed with the 'Ensians pack working hard to keep them out. With the ball difficult to handle the much-needed clearance kick never came and on 8 minutes the hosts drove over for a converted try which gave them a 7 - 0 lead after the conversion.
Although the visitors were being pushed back in the scrums, lock Steve Wade and flanker Sam Featherstone were producing good ball from the lineouts and full back Kristian Keinhorst was able to gain ground with long kicks. A series of lineouts and strong drives pressured the hosts and prop Tony Myers and No. 8 Rob Arbuckle came close. When Ossett infringed, full back Kristian Keinhorst kicked a penalty on 30 minutes to narrow the gap to 7 - 3.
'Ensians continued to spread the ball wide and although centres Luke Cowdell and Nathan Rogers made ground, the greasy surface restricted their usual enterprising play and the home side were able to capitalise on any loose ball. A further penalty by Ossett on 33 minutes was followed by one from Keinhorst on 37 minutes to give the hosts a 10 - 6 lead at halftime.
After the break Keinhorst moved to fly half for the injured Luke Freer with Ben Hatton coming on at the full back. Fllanker Jack Smith made his debut at No. 6 with Lee O'Donnell moving to No.8 and Toby Barltrop replacing Ali Campbell at lock. The re-jigged pack set about their opponents with renewed vigour and good driving from prop Ross Nichols, lock Wade and flanker Smith took play into the home 22. Quick ball from scrum half Ieuan Cranswick put his backs away and centre Nathan Rogers forced his way through half way out. The conversion failed, but for the first time the visitors had a slender lead of 11 - 10 on 43 minutes.
Ossett responded with long kicks down the touchline to pin the visitors in their own 22 where they had to defend resolutely as the bigger pack drove for the line. Eventually a home forward forced his way over and, despite there being two defenders who appeared to hold him up, the referee awarded a try half way out. The reliable home kicker once more added the extras to give his side a 17 - 11 lead on 47 minutes. Five minutes later slick passing by 'Ensians put winger Declan Jackson into space and he outpaced the cover for a fine try wide out. The conversion failed leaving the hosts leading 17 - 16.
Play was end to end for the next twenty minutes when the home kicker once more converted a penalty to give his side a 20 - 16 lead on 70 minutes. This seemed to spur on the visitors who realised that time was running out and they drove their opponents back with some powerful pick-and-drives with scrum half Cranswick sniping round the edges to gain ground. Good lineout ball from the impressive Jack Smith and Steve Wade kept up the pressure and eventually after bombarding the line, prop Ross Nichols was driven over for the crucial try in the corner. Although the conversion failed, 'Ensians were now in front 21 - 20 with six minutes to go.
The hosts were intent on taking play into the opposition half so their reliable kicker might have a chance of a penalty, but the visitors had other ideas and once more the pack put together some powerful drives with O'Donnell, Smith, hooker Ross Myers and lock Barltrop in the thick of it. The hosts strayed offside and full back Hatton kicked the penalty to move the score to 24 - 20 to the visitors on 77 minutes, a lead which they defended until the final whistle.
With muddy conditions such as this, it was always going to be a difficult afternoon for 'Ensians. Credit must go to Ossett who dominated for long periods, but in the end the visitors' determination to come out on top carried the day. Next week 'Ensians have a tough home encounter against Halifax who are third in the table.
In an entertaining friendly, 'Ensians 2nd XV beat Yarnbury 4th XV 21 - 17
Our scorers were ;-
Connor Bateman ------3 conversions