Having observed a 1 minute remembrance day silence ‘Ensians commenced what was expected to be a hard game against Castleford with some confidence after recent good results. After overnight heavy rain it was a cool calm afternoon with the pitch in remarkably good condition. Sadly Captain Sam Featherstone had been taken ill in the morning Rob Lofthouse taking over his duties.
Cas started strongly and from an interception a superb tackle from speedy winger Josh Howarth saved a certain try. However after 7 minutes Connor Bateman came near from a 50 metre run, leading to a penalty and from the ensuing lineout prop Hooper crashed over for an unconverted try.
‘Ensians were on top in the scrums with the home pack being pushed backwards in the set pieces. Despite this Cas. attacked into the visitor’s 22 ,but fine defence with Luke Cowdell to the fore and a good relieving kick by Will Cooper took play back to halfway.
At the 20 minute mark from a scrum on the ‘Ensians 10 metre line Rob Lofthouse took play into the home 22 with a great kick .The following Cas scrum was won against the head and following a hard drive by Rob Arbuckle, Joel Wakeman took over to score his second unconverted try giving ‘Ensians a 10 points to nil lead.
Not to be outdone Cas. fought back into the visitors 22 and drove over to score a converted try to bring the score back to 10 points to 7.After 30 minutes a tip tackle by a Cas player gave the visitors a penalty goal by Connor Bateman to extend the ‘Ensians lead to 13 points to 7 at half time.
The second half opened with Cas moving into the attack but a penalty eased the situation .After 6 minutes Jack Wilkinson gained good lineout ball enabling ‘Ensians to gain good ground and following a scrum where Cas went backwards Rob Arbuckle charged over to score a try converted by Connor Bateman [Cas 10 Ensians 20].
A Cas attack was thwarted by a superb 50 metre relieving kick from Will Cooper and this was followed by even play mainly between the two 22’s until the last 15 minutes. ’Ensians play became more and more disjointed with basic errors creeping in. This resulted in a home unconverted try after 27 minutes and the visiting supporters were anticipating a touchy last 13 minutes .This is exactly what happened .Cas became more and more confident that they could take the match and ‘Ensians conceded numerous penalties defending their line .With 3 minutes to go the home team were camped in the ‘Ensians 5 metres and with the last move of the game 2 minutes into injury time they barged over to score a try to even the scores .The conversion was successful giving Cas a close win by 22 points to 20.
It was an afternoon when the home team did not allow the speedy ‘Ensians backs to play their expansive game, and whilst the pack did well in the tight this was one might say a not very good day at the office.
Another week, another team to beat. Young apprentice coach steve Robinson had been on another YRUFC funded course on the importance of regular commitment to help your club. Unfortunately he couldn’t help tempo as he had “ other things on, “ again ! North Ribb are never a push over & so it proved by Ensians having to come from behind to get a draw in the end. The team changed again with several players not available. Prop Pete Bonner decided to go to Australia [as you do], but new start Toby Keep had a great first game for Ensians, gaining in confidence to fill Bonner’s boots. Ray drake stepped in at hooker, with ben tetley meeting his latest Thai lady boy bride. With Tony Myers not replying to any texts, tempo had to write him off , but big Andy Wood stepped up to front row & was giving his opposite number a hard time before team mate Matty Tenniswood took him out, damaging his ribs. Luckily prop Smoothy Boothy was on hand to help out with his rugby boots & a bottle of port!, 2nd rows were the Tenniswood twins – Bret & Matty, with Adam Lowe putting the 6 shirt on. Naphone Rogers put the 7 shirt on so he could get close to Ribb's hunky forwards, while James Smith put the 8 shirt on with Bower not available & saga model dan ridgeway away at a conference on the importance of safe sex for the over sixties with dodgy hips. With army boy Luke Robinson busy on duty for the weekend, Alex Longstaff stepped in at 9 for another impressive game for Ensians. New Zealand’s only pop star, jonny rah swapped his guitar for the ten shirt, with Dom Oddy & Greg Knox smashing the opposition back from the centres. Ryan Lowe started on one wing, with the ever improving Lukeasz on the other. Captain conner was back at fullback again, after proposing to his latest girlfriend ! [watch this space].
James smith showed his intentions from the kick off, by catching the ball & flattening a couple of Ribb players on a powerful run, with Naphone like long John silver’s parrot, [ always on his shoulder], ready to take the pass & cause the opposition problems. Ribb were no push over’s & were quick over the ball & at counter rucking so alot of good work came to nothing if support was not there.
The scrums were going Ensians way with Toby Keep & Andy Wood having impressive first games until the “ incident “, but the line outs were a lottery with Ray being asked to hit jumpers at 5 on only his second game, when hitting 1, 2 or 3 would have been better to help him get his throwing arm going & boost his confidence. With Rogers making a great break, Andy Wood was on hand to score on 14 minutes & matty brought his kicking boots again to put over the conversion & make it 7 – 0. As with other games, from the kick off, Ensians put themselves under instant pressure by throwing silly passes instead of consolidating & taking the heat out of the opposition, so Ribb had 3 points back within 2 minutes of Ensians score to put them back in the game at 7 – 3.
Ribb were attacking through their backs, but rah, oddy & knox were knocking them back with some big tackles with conner, Lukeasz & ryan sorting out anyone else who came through, but penalties were killing Ensians, with the referee at times seemingly harsh. This gave Ribb momentum, & they started using their big forwards to make the hard yards & when Rogers & Adam Lowe were yellow carded within 4 minutes of each other the writing was on the wall,& Ribb scored 2 tries to make it 7 – 13 to them at half time.
Tempo new this team has the ability to score tries, they just had to cut out the mistakes & penalties in the second half, & with rib having the wind, they would be trying to pin them in their own half, so it was keep the ball in hand & support each other. With Ensians back to a full team, with all the subs on, - happy Ben [Viscounts] & Dean Bailey, with Boothy already on, they started causing problems with breaks from Rah, Oddy , knox & captain conner, with Lukeasz & ryan having some great supporting runs but Ribb always managed to get a vital tackle in or turn over, but after some good work by toby, matty & James smith, Rogers scored on 51 minutes to make it 14 – 13 with another Matty conversion.
Ribb came back & after several penalties, the lively stand-off cut through to score to make it 14 – 18 with no conversion. Rib were working really hard to win this game & with Ensians losing both hooker ray & prop Boothy with injuries, another penalty put Ribb 21 – 14 up & heads were dropping, so tempo reminded his troops that it wasn’t the refs fault but Ribb had more desire to win !. After a couple of good breaks by Rah, Knox & Oddy, captain conner found some space down the wing & as the cover came across, he kicked into the middle of the field & prop toby keep was there to pick the ball up & draw the opposition before putting knox away for a deserved try under the posts. With Matty's easy conversion it was 21 – 21 which is how it stayed till the final whistle.
Probably a fair result against a good Ribb team whose full back was clean through before looking like he'd been shot when his hamstring went, but Ensians have to stop the habit of working hard to get points on the board before giving the opposition points, nearly straight from the re starts.