After a very wet week, the condi3ons at Chaffers field, for Otliensians’ home game against mid table Stocksbridge, were always going to be challenging. The pitch drains well, but the constantly wet ball would certainly test the players handling skills.
The visitors from Sheffield started well, and dominated the first ten minutes, pinning the home team into their own twenty two. Their forwards very adept at recycling the ball and driving mauls forward. Following a stolen line out, Stocksbridge spun the ball wide, and with a deft chip over the defending backs, their centre gathered the ball and popped it to his supporting wing man to score in the corner. Sadly for the tourists, the conversion was missed, as their kicker couldn’t find his kicking tee and the ref gave him seconds to make the kick, which was duly rushed, and sliced.
Stocksbridge’s lead didn’t last long, with Will Howarth scoring the first of three fantastic, individual tries. Taking a long lofted pass, from stand off Jake Bentley, Howarth paused, almost gathering himself, before eruptng into a burst of speed. His opposite wing man not knowing where to turn. Will whizzed down the wing to score under the posts, giving Bentley an easy conversion to take the score to 7:5 For the rest of the game Ensians wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
Ensians should have scored another two tries in the following minutes, but circumstances worked against them. Firstly centre Luke Cowdell bustled his way through several players and within 2 metres of the line, Stocksbridge’s winger managed to punch the ball out of Cowdell’s grasp. Moments later centre Will Cooper chipped the ball over the opposi3on in a perfectly weighted kick. The ball settling in their in goal area. Winger Ethan Hawk was first to the ball, but sadly mis judged his dive and hurtled over the top of the ball. Two ‘let offs’ for Stocksbridge.
Every time the visitors tried to clear the ball deep into ‘ensians half, full back, Will Cooper seemed to always be in the right place to gather and reinstate the attack. In an almost carbon copy of the first home try, Will Howarth took a pass from Cooper and sprinted from the halfway line, down the wing to score under the posts. Extending the lead to 9 points.
With only 10 minutes left of the half, Howarth again found himself in possession yards from his own try line. With the full pitch ahead of him, he used his speed and elusive running angles, to elude the visitors defences. Support from new player Matt Ryan, wasn’t required, and Howarth scored the last of his three tries. Bentleys conversion followed, taking the score to 21:5.
Stocksbridge put the pressure on again in the last 5 minutes of the half, testing the home sides defences. Excellent tackling from forwards, Craig Nicols and cousins Noel and Harry Gilson diffused several aSacks. This week we also welcome another member of the Gilson clan, in the form or Roman Gilson at second row, cementng his transition from Colts to senior rugby.
Otliensians opened the scoring minutes into the second half, with a try and a conversion from fly half Jake Bentley. Increasing the home sides lead by 23 points. Another try followed shortly afterwards, generated again by Jake Bentley. This time Bentley passed to outside centre Matt Ryan who scored the first try of his new career down at Otliensians. The conversion by Bentley quickly followed, to take the score to 35:5. Midway through the half, Otliensians forwards continued to tackle very well and quelled any of Stocksbridge’s advances.
Not content to be outdone by his fellow backs, Luke Cowdell was determined to have his name on the score board, and in his inimitable style, drove his way through the opposi3on from 25 meters out to score. Bentleys conversion closed Ensians points tally at 42.
With 18 minutes still to play, and somewhat late in the game for the visitors, Stocksbridge reverted back to their more successful style of tight forward play, with powerful rolling mauls making inroads into the home sides half. The tactic paid off and resulted in 3 tries over the next 15 minutes. Perhaps if they had adopted this style of rugby through out the game, the score line may have been closer, but on balance ‘ensians superior back line tipped the balance of play in the home sides favour.