Sheffield Oaks 19 Old Otliensians 30
A heavily-sanded surface and a fairly strong crosswind at Niagara Road made for difficult conditions and an error-strewn Yorkshire Division Four game.
The succession of scrums and line-outs meant that the play was disjointed.
A dry ball did not seem to help and on several occasions when passing was the right option, players went to ground and turned over possession.
Moments of brilliance were not always matched by collective support and the determined defencs prevented try-scoring opportunities turning into points.
The first-half penalty county was 9-5 in Otliensians’ favour but both sides missed some kickable ones.
Sheffield did register the first points from a penalty before Otliensians’ full back Kristian Keinhorst converted one after a strong break by centre Luke Cowdell.
Sheffield regained the lead with a try after sustained pressure but the conversion was missed when the wind blew the ball off the kicking tee, Otliensians were forced to reshuffle when stand-off Luke Freer had to go off injured. Replacement Ben Hatton came on at full back with Keinhorst taking Freer’s role.
The deficit was reduced to two points when Hatton kicked a penalty after a storming run from winger Declan Jackson led to Sheffield infringing.
Otliensians began to dominate the scrums in the second quarter. A yellow card for the home team and a mix-up with line-out numbers for the visitors saw an exchange of penalties as the half finished with Oaks leading 11-9.
Otliensians replaced second row Ali Campbell and winger Joe Hatton at half-time with Oliver Cooper and Josh Howarth.
A kick and chase by the visitors led to sustained pressure. The impressive Rob Arbuckle found a gap and forced his way over for a try which Hatton converted.
A strike against the head for the Otliensians was kicked away and tremendous tackling by both sides forced errors. However, Arbuckle went over for his second try after prominent work in attack and defence. Hatton converted.
With 18 minutes to go flanker Lee O’Donnell was yellow-carded and Sheffield kicked three points to reduce the lead to 23-14.
Arbuckle was proving a real menace to the Oaks side and his strength was shown again when Otliensians won another scrum against the head.
He made ground on the blindside before drawing the cover and timing his pass perfectly for scrum half Rob Lofthouse to score a try which Hatton again converted.
The final minutes saw some good running by Oaks and they scored wide out to give their efforts respectability.
Prop Dom Hignett’s storming runs should have had more reward and overall, the league leaders could have had more points on the board.
The win extends the Otliensians’ unbeaten run to 16 matches in a game played in excellent spirit which was well refereed and had a great atmosphere on the touchline.