On a pleasant sunny but cool afternoon with a moderate rising westerly breeze straight down the pitch 'Ensians entertained Baildon hoping to continue their winning run.
Baildon took the breeze and were quickly on the attack in the home 22 but the defence held .After 11 minutes however after a searching attack followed by a penalty kicked to touch the home team made ground into the Visitor's 22 and Joe Armitage crashed over for an unconverted.try. Baildon fought back and one good move was foiled when their winger crossed the line but had put a foot in touch and another move by them ended with a knock on.
Play was quite even with the teams matching one another in the scrums and lineouts .The home team gained ascendancy after 28 minutes when following a sustained attack in the Visitor's 22 the ball was recycled to Luke Cowdell who scored a try converted by Connor Bateman. Six minutes later Matt Taylor made a great break to charge over for an unconverted try to make the score 17 points to nil in favour of the 'Ensians .The rest of the half belonged to Baildon but despite giving away penalties the home defence was sound and at half time the score remained at 17—nil.
Despite playing against the wind Baildon took the play straight into the home half, taking tap penalties on two occasions in an attempt to make further ground but again the fine home defence held them at bay.
'Ensians then took control of the game .First a magnificent Penalty by Will Cooper using the wind made 40 metres taking play to 5 metres of the Baildon line .The lineout was taken by the home team, they gained a scrum moving Baildon backwards and Rob Arbuckle drove over for a typical try converted by Connor Bateman to achieve the bonus point (24—0) .'Ensians were using the wind and the sun intelligently kicking over the Baildon defence and then following up to tackle the defender to turn defence into attack. From one such kick by Luke Cowdell after 15 minutes the defender was stopped the ball turned over and passed across the line for Connor Bateman to score a try and add the extras making the score 31 points to nil.
'Ensians now had their tails up, Baildon were tiring and the home team had full control of the scrums with Sam Featherstone and Ali Campbell prominent in the lineouts . After 23 minutes Baildon opened the ball out in their own 22 but a magnificent tackle by Will Prest enabled the ball to be turned over and Luke Cowdell scored his second try converted by Connor Bateman. .'Ensians 7th try came after 28 minutes scored by Connor Bateman after a strong run and superbly converted by him from the touchline.
Baildon did not give up and despite being in their own half for much of the rest of the game tried to keep the ball moving and their defence held firm.
This had been an entertaining game in which Baildon played their part despite 'Ensians being in control and certainly helped by good refereeing by local man Graham Bentley.'Ensians now have the enviable record of having the best defensive record of ANY Yorkshire team in the Northern division above Yorkshire League 4.
With Team manager Tempo away on one of his Ray Mears hiking expeditions, Young apprentice Harrison down south for the weekend and the not so young, part time apprentice Stephen Robinson very busy having afternoon tea with his future wife. The prestigious honour of managing the second team was left to brittle bone society members Josh Howarth and Lewis Robinson, who despite not having a pair of functioning limbs between them, were happy to take on the role. This was to be the pairs first venture into rugby coaching however they had a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon as Lewis had once guided Accrington Stanley to fa cup glory on FIFA 13 and Josh had stayed up until the early hours on Friday night reading Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography.
Star Player Petrov Temposkovic was unavailable this week due to issues with his visa (that’s brexit Britain for you). However Josh and Lewis had a talented squad of 21 players at their disposable, including two newcomers Nick Hesketh and James Etherington who proved to be valuable additions to the team despite it being their first time playing the game. Baildon had also brought a large squad with them, including a couple of strong runners and some experienced older heads in the pack, which made for a physical encounter and made sure the Ensians team didn’t have it all their own way.
Play was fairly even for the opening exchanges with possession changing hands frequently and both teams seeming to follow a pattern of carrying hard, getting turned over and then defending well. However the large Ensians pack were starting to gain a bit of dominance at the set piece. The front row of Pete Bonner, Wheely and recently engaged Grovesy weren’t taking a backwards step at scrum time and forever young Brett Tenniswood was stealing pretty much all of Baildons ball in the line out. Which allowed the team build some phases, work their way into Baildons 22 and apply some pressure. The half backs of Alex Becketts and Connor Paley were marshalling the troops well despite neither of them playing in their preferred positions, They were using Ben jones, Joe Ridgeway, James Etherington and Grovesy to batter the Baildon line and create valuable yards. Eventually the ball was given to no.8 James Smith who set off on one of his trademark carries sending at least 3 Baildon defenders flying and crashing over for a well deserved try.
From the restart Ensians carried on in the same fashion with some strong carries from the forwards putting Baildon on the back foot, however the ginger ninja Connor paley decided to mix things up and cleverly brought his backs into play, some slick handling and clever carries from centres Joe Tindall and Nick Hesketh created room out wide for winger Lukaz to draw his man and pass to full back Ryan Lowe who used his pace to absolutely skin the Baildon fullback and score. Unfortunately somewhere in the process of setting up the try lukasz took a head knock and had to come off the pitch and spend the rest of the match on the sideline constantly repeating himself.
The two try’s had brought confidence to the team and suddenly everybody wanted to get their hands on the ball and carry hard, which was brilliant apart from the fact we weren’t playing touch and pass, and having 14 players stood deep waiting to receive the ball and one player (usually the scrumhalf Alex) tied up in the ruck, only led to turnovers and penalties against us which allowed Baildon back into the game to score an unconverted try.
Half time came around and changes were made bringing Ray Drake, Ben smith and dan ridgeway onto the pitch. It was also at half time when the coaching staff decided to bring big eddy on for his much anticipated return from injury, however he must have got confused and thought it was still halloween as the medi bag was raided and about 32 rolls of tape were used to make him resemble an Egyptian mummy. Clearly not enough tape was used because 2 minutes into his glorious return somebody stood on his forearm at a ruck and he had to leave the field. The coaches were informed after the match by eddy that although it just looked like a small scratch, he had in fact actually dislocated his elbow, fortunately Big Eddy is a medical professional and was able to pop his own elbow back into place and stabilize the joint before he left the field and was replaced by Michael Wilson.
Play resumed and unfortunately Ensians were getting on the wrong side of the referee at the breakdown leading to baildon kicking to the corner from a penalty, the resulting line out was taken against the head by Brett Tenniswood, ball was quickly spun out to the backs where centre Nick Hesketh received the ball deep in the Ensians 22, showed good footwork to beat a couple of defenders then used his pace to run in a near length of the field try on his debut. Not long after captain Connor used his weird running style to confuse the defense, and score under the posts, adding a conversion as well to take the score to 24-12.
At this point believing the game was in the bag and with a few tired Ensian bodies, mistakes crept into the home team’s game. Baildon took advantage of this and began to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with a try for their efforts through their big no.8 who had carried well all game. The conversion was missed taking the score to 24-17 where it stayed till full time.
Overall a great game to watch with some eye catching performances from the Ensians lads. Plenty to work on but to score 4 tries and get a bonus point against such a tough Baildon team is a great achievement. Having a squad of 21 really helps and we need the same numbers next weekend away at Yarnbury (it’s only up the road so no excuses)