The first frosty day of the season saw the sun low in the sky, creating long shadows and a
beautiful setting down at Chaffers field, for Otliensians first game in the Yorkshire Silver Trophy.
The winner of this years cup gets the chance to play in the national vase, culminating in the
Twickenham final in 2020, so both teams were revved up for the occasion.
Baildon higher in the table, with only 2 losses, were set to be a challenge on paper. From the kick off, Baildon hit the game running, pinning the home side in their own twenty two. Ensians managed to retain the ball from a line out but the clearance was charged down by their lofty second row, to open the scoring at 0:5. Baildons’ full back failed to convert, with the ball glancing the right post.
Ensians dominated from the onset in the scrums, and certainly didn’t let the deficit dampen their spirits. With Will Cooper missing this week, the home side had to reshuffle the back line up, moving Luke Cowdell to full back. Despite being that little further away from the front line, Cowdell made impact every time Ensians had the ball. Driving into the visitors. Each time taking two or three players to stop his approach.
Ten minutes in, Baildon reformed and attacked down the left wing, the home side scrambling their defences. Luckily, ‘work horse’ Paddy Phipps was on hand to tackle their winger into touch ‘man and ball’. Ensians winning the line out and made safe by the right boot of Olie Eaves.
Minutes later Baildon gifted a penalty. Ensians penalised for holding on in the maul. This time Baildons full back had his eye on target and increased the lead by 3 points, to 0:8
Following the restart, Ensians seemed to up the tempo, and chased up the kick pressuring the visitors into making mistakes. The resulting line out won by Ensians, the ball then shipped out wide ending up in the hands of Luke Cowdell. Twenty yards out, he was unstoppable. Ball in hand with his eyes on the line, crashing through three Baildon players to score to the left of the posts. Conversion missed, but 5:8 seemed a more comfortable margin now.
In the first half Baildon really wanted to keep the game flowing, opting for a number of quick line outs, high kicks and good line speed.
Otliensians pressured the visitors for the rest of the half, with a nice break from Jay Walsh, and some good hands from Joe Ridgeway. Little errors from the home side, kept the score unchanged until half time.
Minutes into the second half, Ensians were penalised for going over the top in a maul, inside their own half. Baildons’ full back opting for a kick at goal. On target but yards short. The home pitch proving difficult for his range.
From the restart Ensians kept the visitors pinned in their own half. A great drive forward from Doug Elgar, culminating in the ball shipped down the line, only to see forward Rob Arbuckle pop up at outside centre, thrusting into the visitors 22. Baildon’s trend for encroaching the back feet was finally spotted by the referee, and the tourists were at last penalised for off side.
In the absence of regular kicker Will Cooper, full back Cowdell attempted the long range kick. He had the ‘legs’ but was a little off target, hitting the right post. Luckily Ensians followed up and ceased the attacking left wingers attempt at running the ball out of their 22.
A line out to Ensians in a great position lifted the spirits of the home fans. Eventually the pressure was rewarded, following a lovely weighted chip through from Ensians fly half Ollie Eaves. Baildons centre trying to clear the line but quick thinking Cowdell read the play well and charged the kick down and scored. Unsuccessfully converted the score stood at 10:8
Following the restart, opportunist Doug Elgar spotted Baildon’s scrum half unaware the ball had spilled out of the back of the scrum. Elgar picking up and making good yards, driving forward. The visitors caught off guard, were again found to be off side. Cowdell opting to kick for touch, giving the home side a line out on the 5m line.
Baildon couldn’t cope with the pressure and lost two players to the sin bin within minutes. A free ball to Ensians 5m out, again from Baildon being off side, saw the ball speculatively flung wide and gathered by Luke Cowdell. Hat trick in sight there was no stopping him. After converting his own try, the score stood at 17:8 in the home sides favour and only 15 minutes left of the game.
Cowdells ‘three try elation’ was diluted when he was penalised for an over zealous tackle, resulting in 10 minutes in the sin bin.
At this stage the referee was loosing patience with the sheer number of penalties and warned both teams to keep it clean and correct, or face more cards. Possibly the Yorkshire referees assessor on the side line only added to his stress.
The missing man in the home sides defensive line gave Baildon just enough time and space to set their pacey outside centre on a trajectory into Ensians half. Supported nicely by his left wing Baildon scored in the corner. Again the conversion unsuccessful, took the score to an uncomfortable 17:13.
With only 7 minutes left on the clock, both teams saw victory was possible. Luckily for the home side, Olie Eaves kicked the ball deep into the opposition half taking play close to the 5m line. Baildon retained the ball and tried to break, but Ensians tight defensive line pressured Baildon again into knocking on.
With a scrum 22m out, in front of the posts, Captain Sam Featherstone knew their powerful scrum would force mistakes from Baildon, and a penalty was subsequently awarded. This time all rounder Rob Lofthouse stepped up and slotted the ball through the sticks to take the score to 20:13.
With only a couple of minutes to play, Ensians took play straight back at Baildon from the restart. Within minutes Eaves, spotted space again in Baildon’s half and chipped over the top just in front of their full back. With not enough time for Baildon to clear, Eaves charged down the attempted clearance kick, retained the ball and scored under the post.
This time an easy conversion for Lofthouse, saw the final score at 27:13 in the home side favour. A well fought, closely contested game, but Ensians scrum was too powerful, giving the backs clean ball, tipping the balance in the end.