The first weekend of fixtures in the new decade saw Old Otliensians playing away to Sheffield Medicals who, earlier in the season, they had beaten convincingly at Chaffer’s Field and who, for the first half of the match, looked destined to a similar fate on the artificial surface of their home ground. Unfortunately for ‘Ensians the adage ‘a game of two halves’ proved true for a number of reasons, leaving a 28-28 draw the somewhat disappointing final result for the visitors and their travelling supporters.
On two occasions, within ten minutes of the start, the visitor’s pack drove their opponents backwards in the set scrum and, on the second occasion, might have been disappointed with the penalty against them had it not been for the fact that the resulting kick, and line-out, led to an interception try by Will Cooper and an excellent conversion by Connor Bateman.
From the restart a well taken running catch and drive by Macca Mcllorum took the ‘Ensians into Sheffield territory, only to be pushed back to their own try line through a penalty. Tackle after tackle stopped the home team from scoring until, following a clearing kick by Ollie Eaves and more forward dominance, Connor Bateman converted the first of two tries for Luke Cowdell.
With 25 minutes gone and Otliensians again threatening the Sheffield line, a line-out catch by Sam Featherstone and drive to the line led to a 5 metre scrummage from which a further try might have come had it not been for what seemed a marginal forward pass just before Luke Cowdell touched down. That disappointment was short-lived, however, as minutes later Connor Bateman scored a try which he converted.
For the remaining seven minutes of the first half the ‘Ensians dominance continued, with Medics only apparently successful attack being ruled as off-side, and their kicks being returned ‘with interest’ and a score of 21 unanswered points was a true reflection of that half.
The first few minutes of the second half, with Toby Keep on for Macca Mcllorum, appeared to be a continuation of the first and, indeed, after not more than five minutes play Luke Cowdell scored his second try of the match, following his intercepting a Sheffield pass and running what must have seemed to him (and almost was) the full length of the pitch. The easiest of Conner Bateman’s conversions putting the visitors 28 points to the good.
That, unfortunately, was the last of the good news for ‘Ensians, as from that point the momentum of the game changed in favour of the home team and, despite all of their efforts there appeared nothing that could be done to prevent it.
Four unanswered Sheffield tries were scored, mainly through their resurgent forward’s efforts, with all being converted (although one missed conversion was retaken when the referee decided the ‘Ensians’ team had been making too much noise during the first kick). The last conversion was immediately followed by the final whistle.
There appears little doubt a number of refereeing decisions, during that period of play, may have been open to question (and that more than one knock-on may have been missed during the scoring of the final Sheffield try), but it has to be accepted that Medics ‘stuck to their guns’ and, for each team’s respective efforts, that neither team deserved to loose.