It was on a bright, clear day that the league leaders,Old Otliensians, defended their undefeated season against a Hessle side fighting for survival at the opposite end of the table.
The home side made a solid start from the kick off, with a good catch from lock, Jack Smith. The forwards recycled the ball well and scrum half Rob Lofthouse fed stand off Kristian Keinhorst, who put a clever kick over the top, catching the Hessle full back out of position. A good chase led to an infringement by the visitors and the home side were awarded a penalty on half way. Full back Ben Hatton stepped up to give the home side a 3-0 lead after2 minutes.
Again, the home side’s restart was well collected and the ball sent down field. This gave the visitors a chance to attack, however, a knock on, gave the first scrum of the game. The home front row of Ross Myers, Jim Dyson and Dom Hignett did well against bigger opposition. The ball was moved down field but the good return kick gave a home lineout ten metres from their line. Somehow the ball came loose from the lineout and Hessle pounced, catching the home side off guard to score. The conversion was missed giving the visitors a 3-5 lead.
After the restart, the home side were very aggressive in defence and isolated the visitors who were penalised for holding on to the ball on the half way line. Ben Hatton again stepped up to slot the ball over giving 'Ensians a 6-5 lead on 6 minutes.
This time it was flanker Sam Featherstone who collected the restart. Strong running from flanker Lee O'Donnell, number 8 Rob Arbuckle and lock Smith, with support from lock Ali Campbell and hooker Dyson got the home side well into the Hessle half. A customary strong run from prop Hignett was cut short by a high tackle and again Hatton stepped up to extend the home lead to 9-5 on 8 minutes.
A knock on by the visitors gave the home side a scrum. A great break down the short side by Arbuckle was continued by winger Declan Jackson and his flamboyant side step. Unfortunately the break wasn't finished off and the visitors cleared. During a period of Hessle pressure, there was great defence by centres Dom Oddy and Luke Cowdell, well supported by winger Joe Hatton. However, the home side were caught off side which gave Hessle a kick at goal, which was missed.
After another solid home scrum, Arbuckle made another break down the blind side, fed scrum half Lofthouse who put flanker Featherstone away in the corner on 25 minutes. The conversion attempt by Hatton bounced off the upright. The home lead was extended to 14-5.
After the restart, some good home forward interplay made great headway up the field. Fast handling by the backs made space for full back Hatton to make a great break. He chipped over the top, the Hessle winger knocked on giving the home side a scrum. This gave another good attacking platform for the dangerous home backs. Centre Cowdell cut a great line through the Hessle defence, butthe pass was deemed forward, letting the visitors off.
Hessle worked their way into the home 22 with a good kick into touch. The home lineout was lost and the home side penalised giving Hessle another shot at goal. Again the kick was missed, on the half hour mark.
A knock on by the visitors on their 10 metre line gave 'Ensians another scrum. Arbuckle again broke off the base and popped the ball to O'Donnell who returned the pass to Arbuckle who went on to score under the posts. Hatton converted giving the home side a 21-5 lead on 36 minutes.
Good lineout work by Campbell gave Ensians another good attacking base, winger Joe Hatton was looking dangerous, popping up in-field. Again a pass by Oddy putting Joe Hatton away was judged forward and the visitors cleared.
Newcomer lock James Wilkinson came on for Campbell just before half time and made his presence felt. A fast paced first half ended with the home side comfortably in front.
After the restart, the home scrum took one against the head. Joe Hatton took advantage of the visitors’ defence being out of position and made a break into the Hessle half. Great interplay and off loading by both forwards and backs saw hooker Jim Dyson gallop in for a try on 44 minutes, increasing the lead to 26-5, the conversion being missed.
On 50 minutes, prop Ross Nichols replaced Hignett. A knock on in defence gave Hessle a scrum on the 5 metre line, they won it and smashed their way over, showing the home side that they were not yet finished, the conversion was successful, bringing the score to 26-12.
A turnover by Arbuckle gave the home side another chance to attack. Again the home backs were looking dangerous, Keinhorst was distributing well, bringing Oddy and Cowdell into play. Good support from wingers Jackson and Joe Hatton took the break into the opposition half, good support from the forwards, led to Jim Dyson going in from the 22 for his second try. The conversion by Ben Hatton went over to give Ensians a 33-12 lead and the 4-try bonus point on 57 minutes.
The home side had a period of sustained pressure, keeping Hessle confined in their own half. The last pass was judged to be forward or knocked on, preventing the home side extending their lead. The home scrum was now dominating, taking a couple against the head. This led to Hessle pushing early and a free kick was awarded. Lofthouse showed his pace making a good break and releasing the backs and Jackson finished out wide. The conversion was missed giving the home side a lead of 38-12 on 65 minutes.
Luke Freer came in for the injured Luke Cowdell at outside centre. A poor kick by ‘Ensians gave Hessle a line out, they set up a great rolling mall and drove the home side up to their 5 metre line. The home side turned the ball over and cleared. At the following lineout, hooker Dyson was shown yellow for sacking the jumper and ‘Ensians were down to 14. This led to some serious pressure on the home defence. Hessle were awarded a string of penalties, which they opted to run. Some great tackles kept the visitors out. Hessle were penalised for crossing and ‘Ensians cleared. Dyson returned to the field with the ‘Ensians lead intact. Arbuckle was substituted for Campbell who went on as flanker and O'Donnell moved to number 8 with 5 minutes left to play.
Some great running by O'Donnell and prop Nichols moved the home side into the Hessle half. Keinhorst put a great kick over the top, well picked up by Freer who fed Jackson who unfortunately couldn't finish, letting the visitors offthe hook.
The home side were not yet finished though. Good work by forwards and backs alike worked the home side into the visitors 22. Great play by Freer and Oddy put Joe Hatton through a gap. The ball was spilt giving Hessle a scrum. Again the dominant ‘Ensians pack took the ball against the head, O'Donnell broke down the blind side and put Featherstone away for his second in the corner. Ben Hatton’s conversion was successful, making the score 45-12. With that came the full time whistle.
All in all it was a great game of rugby and all credit has to go to Hessle who kept going to the end and in phases looked threatening. Best of luck to them in their battle to avoid relegation.
‘Ensians face a stiff test next Saturday when they take on second-placed Stocksbridge away.
With Baildon giving backword to Ensians & Keighley doing the same to Cleckheaton the two got together for a rearranged fixture.
Cleckheaton were an older well drilled side with some good young players while Ensians were a mixture of players returning, new players & a handful of Viscounts who also had a canceled fixture.
The game started with the Cleckheaton pack driving forward and their stand off using Cleck's solid inside centre to break through. Jonny Rah & Philpot in the centre had other ideas, the young back row of Ken Lui, Ollie Cooper, Connor Bateman & man of the match veteran scrum half Rich Crossley plugged any holes.
When Ensians got the ball Jonny made some great breaks to put the backs away, however with the try line begging Ensians managed to some how murder a number of chances with dropped balls, forward passes and turned over players. Ensians have Ben Smith at full back, a talented player who holds the Guinness world record for not passing the ball in try scoring situations.
When Ensians did it right they inter passed well with the back-row, scrum-half & lively 2nd row Steve Wale all over the park. It wasn’t long before Connor Bateman finished off a good move to score. With the conversion Ensians were 7 – 0 up.
Cleckheaton came back & after pressure scored under the posts, 7 – 7 game on.
Ensians came back with Jonny Rah calling the shots, Ben Smith was put through a hole to go on a mazy run. Young Connor Paley was supporting outside on the wing & new centre Andraos on the inside, it must be try time ! William Hill were giving odds of 100 – 1 that he would pass (they couldn’t possibly lose). Ben didn't pass but threw a dummy & tripped over his own feet to earn the “Dick of the day” award.
After more pressure from Cleckheaton Ensians worked hard in defence and turned over the ball, Ken Lui made one of his trade mark kamikaze tackles & Ollie Cooper stripped the ball. With good drives from man mountain Pete Bonner, pick of the Dyson brothers Josh, Ross Nicoles & 2nd rows making the hard yards with the tall wirery Steve Wale causing problems it wasn’t long before fullback Ben Smith was put in space again. With andraos screaming for the ball Ben actually passed, (costing William Hill a fortune) & the centre scored wide out. Conversion missed 12 – 7 it was starting to come together.
Again Cleckheaton came back with some solid line outs , scrums & great moves but Ensians back-row were everywhere & once they got the ball in their hands they moved it away from the Cleck forwards. Good inter passing from Matty Tenniswood & Connor Paley gave space to Philpot (the centre with the pop star looks) to score. Matty T converted to make it 17 – 7 .
Cleck came back again & after sustained pressure scored to make it 17 – 12 at half time.
During half time Ensians lost prop Ross Nicoles to the first team, Josh Dyson to injury but with a good bench made changes to get players games.
Big Eddie made his debut (20 stone plus of muscle). it was good to see a player who has had some horrendous injuries; keeping him away from training since pre season; back on the field. His shorts, which he must have borrowed from Verne Troyer meant the Ensians backs got a solar eclipse every maul but he put in a good shift.
Cleck changed their game plan & kicked to the corners, with Jock now at hooker struggling to hit a barn door at line-out time. Cleck wound up the pressure to score two more tries, one converted to take the game.
This was a good game Ensians could have won against a very good Cleck team who took their chances & exploited Ensians weaknesses.
Unfortunately changes to the team from previous weeks meant it took time for Ensians to settle & eventually cost them the game.