Otliensians unbeaten run is ended by title rivals Stocksbridge

First published in Sport

Stocksbridge14 Old Otliensians 6

Old Otliensians 17-match unbeaten Yorkshire Division Four run came to an end as they were defeated by second-placed Stocksbridge on Saturday.

The result cuts their lead at the top of Division Four, but Otliensians do have the benefit of having a game in hand.

They went into action against their closest rivals without two of their most potent threats, centre Luke Cowdell and winger Declan Jackson, on a grey and breezy afternoon.

Otliensians played up the slope and into the wind in the first half and they found themselves trailing after just five minutes. The home side utilised their big forwards well and made some good ground up the field.

A break by Stocksbridge inside the 22 was only stopped by some good tackling by centres Dom Oddy and Nathan Rogers.

When the ball was recycled Stocksbridge took advantage to score a try.

Buoyed by that success the home side maintained the pressure and forced a penalty to extend their lead to 8-0 after just seven minutes.

After a good restart by fly half Luke Freer, a determined chase by the forwards led to the home side putting the ball out on the full.

A solid line-out throw by hooker Jim Dyson meant the visitors could put Stocksbridge under some press-ure.

Otliensians were agonisingly close to opening their account when they forced a penalty for not releasing in the tackle. Ben Hatton’s kick bounced off an upright and flew to safety.

Stocksbridge continued to use the conditions and slope in their favour. Otliensians were having to work hard to make their way out of the 22.

Some great defence by wingers Joe Hatton and Josh Howarth was all that kept the home side from extending their lead.

Stand off Freer put Oddy through a gap on his own 22, and the centre took play up to the ten-metre line before feeding Rogers.

He was halted when the Stocks-bridge winger made a tackle and killed the ball which resulted in him being yellow-carded.

Unfortunately the visitors were unable to capitalise on their one-man advantage. Their cause wasn’t helped when Oddy had to go off injured with flanker Lee O’Donnell moving into the centre and Oli Cooper coming on to fill the gap in the back row.

Kristian Keinhorst had replaced Freer just minutes before Stocks-bridge extended their lead to 11-0 with a penalty.

Hatton opened Otliensians’ acc-ount with a penalty goal but Stocksbridge responded in kind to lead 14-3.

Great kicking down the field by Hatton and Keinhorst enabled Otliensians to keep Stocksbridge penned in their 22 in the second half.

Despite exerting considerable pressure they could not break open the resolute home defence.

Hatton missed a chance to reduce the deficit on the hour mark but his penalty drifted wide. Seven minutes later he was given another chance and made no mistake.

Still Otliensians continued to pound the home side, but they were struggling to break down the powerful home defence.

Stocksbridge seemed content to concede penalties and Hatton, normally so deadly, saw two more kickable efforts miss the target, Otliensians were extremely disappointed to see their unbeaten record drift away.

To their credit they did make Stocksbridge battle all the way for the win.

Otliensians face another long trip on Saturday when they travel away to Hornsea for a re-arranged fixture, The original game was postponed in February.

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