Halifax Vandals 3 Old Otliensians 37
After a three week break Otliensians travelled to Halifax to open the second half of their league season. Trips to Vandals in recent season have often resulted in defeat with the strong Pennine winds and the peculiar slope of the pitch running corner to corner usually being well exploited by the home kickers.
This time the day was still, the weather bright and the pitch in remarkably good condition following the rain.
Playing down the slope Otliensians started brightly and Kristian Keinhorst opened the scoring after four minutes with a penalty goal.
Two Minutes later Alex Albrecht, who was to have an outstanding game, made a 20-metre break and following good work from the forwards Luke Cowdell drew his man and put Declan Jackson in for a try converted by Keinhorst.
The Vandals marked their first foray into the visitors’ half by kicking a penalty but unfortunately skipper Ieuan Cranswick suffered a serious knee ligament injury soon afterwards which will keep him out for six to eight weeks.
Rob Lofthouse moved to scrum half and Callum Doherty came in on the wing. After 21 minutes Cowdell chipped the ball over the head of the Vandals’ full back just outside his own 22 and chased through to score an unconverted try.
Outstanding rucking by Ali Campbell and man of the match Jack Smith set up the next score.
The ball sped across the backs to put Jackson in for a try which was converted by Keinhorst to stretch the lead to 22-3.
Despite playing up the slope after the break, Otliensian continued to exert pressure. Rob Lofthouse raced over the line only to be called back for an earlier knock on.
Jackson completed his hat trick with an unconverted try after 53 minutes after a sublime move.
The league leaders were dominating the rucks, holding their own in the scrums and Smith, Campbell and Sam Featherstone were doing well in the line-outs. Keinhorst kicked a penalty with ten minutes to go and also added the extras when Cowdell ran in the final try.
Vandals never gave up and in a late flourish they almost scored a try from an interception but a superb tackle from Keinhorst kept the line intact.
This was a workmanlike win for Oltiensians and a good start to 2014. It will hold them in good stead for the much tougher matches to come if they are to achieve their ambition of winning Yorkshire Division Four.