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Otley fightback is too little, too late
Otley 21 Hull 26
Otley’s season still has 12 weeks to run but this will surely go down as one of the more curious matches of the campaign.
After leading 7-0 from a piece of quick thinking by scrum half Kirk Arundale, Otley never looked like scoring again until they were 26-7 behind with less than ten minutes left.
Then centre Chris Gemmell got a try that was even more out of the blue and replacement scrum half Steve Depledge burrowed over for a five-pointer in stoppage time.
Ben Cooper converted both and Hull were left hanging on for a victory that had seemed assured for 50 minutes.
“We could not get the ball and we didn’t play with intensity,” said Otley’s interim director of rugby Ryan Duckett in trying to explain that long fallow period.
“But when we did get the ball we did all right but our defence was not where we want it to be.”
Former Ilkley scrum half Arundale spotted a chink in Hull’s defensive armour to scoot over for a try in the fifth minute, Cooper converting, but Otley then lapsed far too often into either missing tackles or losing the ball too easily in contact.
Conceding penalties didn’t help either, and Hull fly half Greg Lound slotted over kicks in the eighth and 11th minutes to reduce the deficit to a point.
And a neatly-timed pass by former Bull Lee Radford set up Hull for a try in the 17th minute, winger Alex Piercy and centre Stephen Slingsby exchanging passes before the latter went over.
Gemmell then drove the ball into a tackle and swiftly coughed it up, and Otley had to defend two five-metre line-outs before hooker Will Kay went over, Lound’s conversion stretching the Hull lead to 18-7.
Otley then lost former Bulls player Alex Ball with a suspected fractured cheekbone before Lound landed a third penalty in first-half stoppage time.
The hosts, who seemed less physical than their pink and purple shirted opponents, needed the first score of the second half but their chances weren’t helped when Ball’s replacement Johnathan Matthews was sin-binned ten minutes after the restart.
Hull scrum half Daniel White’s try in the left-hand corner seemed to wrap matters up in the 59th minute, and Otley’s day seemed to be summed up when a pass hit one of their players in the face with only 12 minutes remaining.
Gemmell’s superb individual try try - he waltzed in from the Hull ten-metre line - breathed new fire into home bellies, however, and former Otley and Leeds prop Kristyan Fullman and replacement prop Thomas Doughty were both sin-binned in quick succession to make things even more interesting.
However, the home side ran out of time for victory after Depledge’s converted try merely brought them a bonus point for getting within seven points.