It was on a grey, blustery Saturday afternoon that league leaders Old Otliensians, travelled to Stocksbridge where they were beaten for the first time this season by the South Yorkshire side lying in second place in the League.
The first half got underway with the visitors playing up the slope and into a strong wind. The kick off was cleanly taken by lock Jack Smith, good forward drives by number 8 Rob Arbuckle and blind side Lee O'Donnell with support from lock Ali Campbell and open side Sam Featherstone made good ground up the field. A knock on at the base of the ruck led to the first scrum. The visitors’ front row of Ross Myers, Jim Dyson and Tony Myers held their own against a far bigger home pack, but the resultant ball was often untidy. The home side utilised their big forwards well and made some good ground up the field. A break by Stocksbridge inside the visitors 22 was only stopped by some good tackling by centres Dom Oddy and Nathan Rogers. The quickly re-cycled ball led to an early try for the home side, the conversion being missed to give them a 5-0 lead on 5 minutes.
The home side continued to use the elements to good effect, keeping the visitors pinned in their 22 and on 7 minutes the visitors were penalised and the Stocksbridge extended their lead to 8-0 with a good shot at goal.
After a good restart by fly half Luke Freer, a determined chase by the forwards led to the home side putting the ball out on the full. A solid lineout throw by hooker Dyson in the strong wind meant the visitors could put the home side under some pressure. Stocksbridge were penalised for the tackler not releasing and 'Ensians had a shot at goal. Full back Ben Hatton’s attempt into the wind bounced off the upright and the home side maintained their lead.
Stocksbridge continued to use the conditions and slope in their favour. 'Ensians were having to work very hard to make their way out of the 22. Some great defence by wingers Joe Hatton and Josh Howarth was all that kept the home side from extending their lead. Stand off Freer put centre Oddy through a gap on the visitors’ 22, Oddy made his way up to the visitors’ 10 metre line before feeding centre partner Rogers. The Stocksbridge winger made a tackle and killed the ball resulting in him being yellow-carded.
Unfortunately the visitors were unable to capitalise on the home side being down to 14 men and centre Oddy had to come off through injury with flanker O'Donnell moving into the centre and Oli Cooper coming on to fill the gap in the back row. Kristian Keinhorst came on for Freer on 30 minutes. Then on 35 minutes, the home side extended their lead with a penalty goal giving them an 11-0 lead.
Again the visitors gradually worked their way into the home 22 with some solid work by the forwards and backs. The home side were penalised and Hatton had another shot at goal. This time despite the wind, he converted, taking the score to 11-3.
Just as half time approached, the visitors crept off side on their 10 metre line. Stocksbridge kicked for goal and were successful meaning ‘Ensians turned round for the second half 14-3 down.
At the interval, prop Ross Nichols came on for Ross Myers. This time it was the visitors’ turn to use the conditions. Great kicking down field by Hatton and Keinhorst was keeping Stocksbridge pinned in their 22. Unfortunately the visitors were unable to capitalise with the ball in hand, the home side were defending hard and, with the last pass going to ground when 'Ensians made breaks, the home lead stayed intact.
On 60 minutes the home side were penalised. 'Ensians opted to kick for goal but unfortunately it missed leaving the home lead at 14-3. On 65 minutes James Wilkinson came on for Smith and Cooper made way for Steve Wade.
Again on 67 minutes the home side were penalised for being off side on the 10 metre line. Hatton stepped up to convert and narrow the deficit to 14-6.
Still the visitors continued to pound the home side, but they were struggling to break down the powerful home defence. On 70 minutes the hosts were penalised again, but unfortunately the kick at goal drifted wide.
The visitors were beginning to become frustrated through their inability to find gaps in the sound and defiant home defence. On 70 minutes Cooper returned to the field for Campbell. On 75 minutes the visitors had another attempt at goal when the home side were penalised. However again it was missed meaning on full time the score remained at 14-6.
It is safe to say that ‘Ensians were very disappointed to have lost their unbeaten run stretching back to April 2013. However all credit has to go to Stocksbridge who played the conditions and their pitch better and showed why they have conceded the least points in the League so far this year.
‘Ensians face another long trip on Saturday when they travel away to Hornsea for a re-arranged fixture which was postponed in February due to Hornsea’s pitch being waterlogged.
‘Ensians 2nd XV lost 26 – 5 away at Yarnbury 3rds. The try scorer for ‘Ensians was Ken Luu.