Leaders Otliensians turn on the style to defeat promotion rivals Stocksbridge

Old Otliensians 37 Stocksbridge 12

Old Otliensians produced an outstanding attacking performance to strengthen their position at the top of the table with victory over their closest rivals.

Despite the game being disrupted first by an injury to the referee and then by the need to move the game to an adjoining pitch when a visiting player sustained a neck injury, the hosts scored five tries as they ran up 37 points against a side that had only yielded 42 in their previous eight matches.

Stocksbridge provided early evidence of their game plan as they relied on the driving play of their large pack to gain territory.

But it was Otliensians who opened the scoring when Luke Cowdell spotted a gap in the defence and tore through it to score a try near the posts which Ben Hatton converted.

Despite their weight advantage, Stocksbridge didn’t have it all their own way in the scrums with the home front row of Tony Myers, Jim Dyson and Ross Nicholls putting in some hard graft .

In the line-outs lock Ali Campbell and flanker Sam Featherstone generally managed to command their own ball, but pressure from the visiting back row didn’t make life easy for scrum half Ieuan Cranswick.

With the visitors enjoying the bulk of possession, it was a case of their heavy forwards battering their way into the home half before they unleashed their backs.

In mid-field centres Cowdell and Nathan Rogers were putting in solid tackles with good support from the back row of Lee O’Donnell, Rob Arbuckle and Featherstone.

Although living off limited poss- ession, Otliensians looked dang- erous every time they got the ball and there was a repeat performance from Cowdell when slick inter-passing in the backs put him away for a try which Hatton converted.

The visitors had been wide with a long range penalty, but when they were awarded another inside the Otliensians’ half, their scrum half caught the home side napping by taking a quick tap and racing 40 metres through for an opportunist ‘s try.

A fine touchline penalty by home full back Hatton was followed by a neat drop goal from the same player to give the home side a 20-5 half-time lead.

Stocksbridge gained the first score of the second half when they forced their way over for a try after forward pressure.

The visiting eight continued to put the home side under tremen- dous pressure, often being brought down only inches from the line, but the defensive effort from the home side was immense.

Otliensians regained their composure and scored The pressure was now on Stocksbridge and a hurried clearance kick was charged down by tireless flanker Feather- stone who followed up to dive over for a crucial try There was then a break in play when the referee had to have treatment for a leg injury before he could carry on.

The hosts withstood further onslaughts from the visiting pack when one of their players suffered a neck injury. As he could not be moved, the referee sensibly moved the game onto the adjoining pitch for the final 15 minutes. Thankfully the injury did not prove to be serious .

This is where, despite having only limited possession, Otlien- sians really tore into their opponents.

Flanker O’Donnell snapped up a ball around halfway and set off on a powerful weaving run to the line for an excellent try with Hatton’s conversion stretching the gap to 32-12 and finally Cowdell completed his hat-trick after gathering his own kick ahead.

There was still time for winger Declan Jackson to have another try ruled out by the referee for a forward pass.


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