OSSETT’S LACK OF DISCIPLINE ON AND OFF THE PITCH GAVE ENSIANS THE UPPER HAND.
Saturday saw the Old Otliensians travel to Ossett to replay the fixture that was abandoned earlier in the season. Failing light and a badly injured player on the 57th minute, gave the referee enough justification to decide a replay was the better option. If the game had have reached the sixtieth minute, RFU rules dictate, an abandonment at that stage would be classed as full time, with the scores standing. Luckily for Otliensians, with six point deficit, the game was deemed null and void. Sadly the gentlemanly conduct that followed the abandoned game was short lived and the rematch witnessed too many penalties to count.
On such a small pitch, the direction of play changed with almost each phase of the game; one tactical kick and play was in the danger zone for either team. Luckily Ensians Fly half Will Cooper adopted this as part of his game plan early on, and pinned the home side in their ‘22 from the onset.
The first real hope for the tourists came when Ossett tried to clear the kicked through ball. Second row Jay Walsh charging the ball down with high hopes of an early score. Sadly the home backs gathered the ball and made good yards back into the opposition’s half. At the next opportunity, Cooper used the same tactic kicking deep into Ossett’s half. This time the home sides attempt at running the ball faltered and resulted in easy penalty for Luke Cowdell to slot between the posts. Not the best strike, but again the meagre dimensions of the pitch worked in Cowdell’s favour. 0:3
This was the start of many penalty infringements from both sides. Ossett making their intentions known by opting to kick for the corner several times, instead of going for goal. This tactic would fail them in the end. Within minutes of the first points, Ensians had an opportunity to increase the lead following an Ossett player being penalised for ‘not rolling away’. Cowdell, making it look easy, increased the lead to 0:6.
From the restart Nathan Jones made a super break up the left wing but sadly Ossett’s lofty outside centre made a dangerous high tackle, in what was the start of the demise of the home sides discipline. Following the penalty, Ensians slowly worked their way up the centre of the pitch. Otley’s forwards showing their mettle driving the home sides pack from 10m out, back over their own try line. Captain Sam Featherstone finishing off with the touch down. Cowdell’s successful conversion took the lead to 0:13 early on in the game.
It took a good twenty minutes before we saw any threatening play from the home side. Taking advantage of two penalties and working their way into a perfect attacking position 10m out from Ensians try line, was Ossett’s best chance yet. Luckily for the visitors, Will Coopers tackling was second to none, and when Ossett’s big centre set his sights on the line, he was surprised to be driven back almost to the 22 by Coopers powerful driving tackle. Ossett not content to lose the momentum, attacked via their elusive scrum half but sadly for the home side, he lost control of the ball on the visitors try line, again thanks to Coopers tackling (see photo). Ossett kept up the pressure and were eventually rewarded by a try in the left corner for their inside centre. A successful conversion took the score to 7:13 at half time. Exactly like the abandoned game back in December, Ossett came into the second half like a different team. Forced mistakes gave the home side the advantage and a nice phase of play in the middle of the field resulted in Ossett’s stocky full back carving his was through to score a well deserved try in the corner. The conversion, on such a small pitch, no problem for Ossett’s stand off. 14:13 Game on!
For the next 15 minutes the direction of play changed like a tennis match, but the referee at this stage was taking no nonsense and his shrill whistle became common place. On the fiftieth minute Otliensians’ hopes of regaining the lead were sadly quashed, when Cowdell’s attempt at goal drifted inches to the left of the posts. Luckily for the visitors within minutes another opportunity arose, following Ossett’s scrum breaking down under pressure. This time Cowdell was back on form, taking his tally to 3 from 4. 14:16
Unwilling to accept defeat, Ossett’s scrum half decided to take charge of play with a quick tap penalty following an off side infringement. The referee didn’t actually see the quick tap, but decided to allow it, even though play had moved on some 30 yards. The number 9 managed to get the home side in a great position, with a line out only yards from the try line. Sadly for the home side their outside centre decided take out his frustrations on Ensians right wing, resulting in a fracas. The referee, in control until the end, quickly diffused the situation and penalised both teams accordingly. That should have been that, but one of the home sides supporters abused the referee, causing him to blow full time. With the clock at 63 minutes, the score was therefore recorded, despite the abandonment.
This just goes to show, players and supporters must show the referee the utmost respect at all levels of rugby.