OORUFC Match Report
23rd November 2013


In good conditions and against bottom-of-the table Hessle, 'Ensians quickly got into their stride with a well-worked try producing a 7 - 0 lead after only 3 minutes. Perhaps an air of over- confidence crept in because the hosts came back strongly to take a 10 - 7 lead with a penalty and a converted try. Although the visitors responded with a fine try by winger Declan Jackson, a penalty by the home side put them in front 13 - 12 at the break. Scrappy disjointed play by the visitors encouraged Hessle who fought valiantly for the next 37 minutes to hang onto their slender lead. An 'Ensians penalty on 77 minutes edged them in front for visiting spectators to breathe a sigh of relief and then they caught the home side napping to score a converted try in the closing seconds to push the score to 22 - 13.

Everything started so well for the visitors when the ball passed through eight pairs of hands to set winger Josh Howarth away up the wing for an excellent try half way out to create a 7 - 0 lead on 3 minutes. Winger Jackson came close four minutes later when he was hauled down a metre short and perhaps the feeling was that it was only a matter of time before more points followed.

However, Hessle had other ideas and decided to show the League leaders how it was done. Good drives by their hefty forwards took play into the visitors 22 where they kicked a penalty on 16 minutes. Now with their tails up, four minutes later through slick passing up the right flank they sent their speedy winger over and the conversion gave them a 10 - 7 lead on 20 minutes.

The visitors were obtaining good ball from the scrums through the front row of Ross Nichols, Jim Dyson and Greg Jones, but although half backs Ieuan Cranswick and Luke Freer got the ball moving, over-elaborate handling in mid-field often meant that the ball went to ground or the home defence was able to drift across and snuff out attacking moves. Things brightened up for 'Ensians when centre Luke Cowdell put winger Declan Jackson away to leave the cover for dead and score in the corner. The conversion failed, but the visitors were now back in the lead at 12 - 10 on 30 minutes Jackson made another good run, but, with support on either side, he ended up on the wrong end of a good tackle by the opposition full back.

The home side came back in style with some good solid driving by both forwards and backs and when the visitors infringed, they regained the lead with a penalty on 36 minutes to take the score to 13 - 12 at the break.

In the second half, with good lineout ball from Steve Wade, Ali Campbell and Sam Featherstone, the visiting backs moved the ball well on many occasions, but too often the ball was far too slow and the fired-up Hessle defence brought things to a halt. There were some good forward drives from No.8 Rob Arbuckle, lock Wade and flankers Lee O'Donnell and Sam Featherstone, but when the move stopped, the ball was slow from the breakdown and the resultant passing tended to be hurried and inaccurate.

As the minutes ticked by, Hessle could sense that they might be on the way to a memorable victory and they stepped up their efforts in defence and attack. 'Ensians had their chances when a loose ball in front of the home posts was snapped up only for the final pass to be knocked on in front of an open line. Some good forward play put prop Greg Jones over, but the referee adjudged that the ball had gone forward as it was touched down and then to cap everything, Ben Hatton was just wide with a penalty.

The feeling among visiting spectators was that somehow in the closing minutes, 'Ensians must score and come out on top and their hopes were rewarded on 77 minutes when full back Ben Hatton kicked the vital penalty to put the visitors 15 - 13 in front after a scoreless second half. From the re-start the ball was moved to centre Luke Cowdell who put in a massive kick down the touchline. Young winger Callum Doherty chased flat-out and caught the home defender who illegally threw the ball into touch ten yards out. Rather than waiting for the penalty and before the opposition had arrived, quick-thinking centre Nathan Rogers snapped up the ball and took a lineout to prop Greg Jones who crashed over. The conversion by Hatton lifted the score to 22 - 13 to give the visitors a far-from-comfortable victory.

Credit must go to Hessle for their battling performance which was out of keeping with their lowly League position. For their part, 'Ensians were too easily knocked off their stride resulting in a really patchy display with wrong options and poor handling. Facing second-in-the-League Stocksbridge next week, they will have to step up several gears to stay on top.