With a number of first team players unavailable for selection (a “stag-do” near North Berwick proving more appealing than at trip to Halifax) Otliensians kicked-off down a sloping pitch and into a stiffening breeze, and the backs had their first opportunity to test the home defence, following a penalty against Vandals, with winger Conner Paley making a strong run toward the Vandals’ line.
Immediately the game moved up-field to the visitor’s line, with the Otley forwards having to win a scrum against the head to halt the Vandals progress. A penalty awarded after the scrum had broken up gifted 3 points to Halifax, and for some time they pressured their opponent’s line. It required a moment of brilliance to turn this tide which came when, following a penalty and an excellent touch kick by Will Prest, full back Will Cooper entered the back-line at speed and, from way out, scored the first of 'Ensians’ three tries.
For the next 20 minutes Otliensians’ forwards and backs combined to produce some excellent rugby and their second try, whilst not as spectacular as the first, saw forward play at its best. On 35 minutes flanker Dougie Elgar rose to catch a line-out on the Vandals’ 22 metre line, and the entire pack combined to drive over the try-line for Rob Arbuckle to score.
Vandals came back with a penalty goal almost from the restart but ‘Ensians’ progress was not to be halted, and a combination between hooker John Offer, Elgar and Connor Paley might have seen them go further ahead had a foot not strayed into touch a metre from the Vandals’ line. A third try came after 45 minutes of play, when another touch kick by centre Will Prest to the Vandals 22 metre, gave the forwards the opportunity to win the ball and drive to the line, where Macca McIlorum rounded off his excellent half by scoring.
Playing down the slope in the second half the home side would have scored a try in the fifth minute had their player not been held up over the line, but ‘Ensian’s relief was short-lived when the resulting scrum was lost, and the Vandals crossed the line for a converted try.
Fifteen minutes later Vandals went ahead with a converted try scored almost from under their own posts to move the score to 18 - 15, and Otliensians’ line was then besieged as the home side sought to press home their advantage. Only the great effort of all the ‘Ensians’ forwards denied Vandals a further try and, as luck would have it, it was ‘Ensians who next scored when Will Cooper slotted over a penalty to level the score.
The visitors then mounted their own lengthy period of attack, forcing the home side to concede several penalties and only just failing to add to their three tries by conceding a penalty just short of the Vandals try-line but, despite both sides striving for a win, it began to appear the game might end in a draw. That possibility was not in the mind of centre Ollie Eaves, however, who in one magical moment, and with minutes only remaining, dropped a long-range goal to restore the visitors’ lead.
In the remaining minutes Vandals did all they could to win the game but to no avail, as the visitors skilfully retained possession working through many phases until the final whistle. The final score of 18 – 21 was just reward for an excellent ‘Ensians’ effort.