Old Otliensians 36 York RI 12
Champions Otliensians put their mounting injury problems to one side as they proved too strong for their plucky opponents.
Although York RI briefly took the lead in the first half, the home side hit back to run in five tries to secure a bonus-point victory.
In overcast conditions the hosts used the strong wind to gain territory.
Although York dominated the line-outs, the front row of Tony Myers, Jim Dyson and Ross Nichols ensured Otliensians fared well in the scrums.
Several promising attacking moves broke down before scrum half Ben Hatton put the home side ahead with a seventh-minute penalty.
The hit back by pressurising the home defence before whipping the ball out wide where superior numbers put their winger over for a good try in the corner.
The try stung Otliensians into action. They camped in the opposition half, but the combination of the wind and some over-ambitious offloading saw several promising moves break down.
Eventually stand-off Luke Freer cut through to touch down half ay out. Hatton added the extras and the hosts were ahead 10-5 after 15 minutes.
York RI raised their game and for the next 20 minutes both sides created chances with the home side always looking more dangerous with ball in hand.
The home pack was putting in some powerful drives with No.8 Rob Arbuckle getting good support from locks James Wilkinson and Steve Wade.
The York side were defending heroically until centre Luke Cowdell received the ball in space and his speed off the mark took him past two defenders to score under the posts. The conversion by Ben Hatton stretched the home side’s lead to 17-5.
After the break there was a re-shuffle in the backs when Freer, still carrying a knock from the previous week, had to leave the field.
Kristian Keinhorst took over with Ben Hatton moving to full back and flanker Sam Featherstone deputising at scrum half.
Now facing the strong wind, Otliensians managed to battle their way into the opposition half with props Myers and Jones leading the way.
From broken play some quick ball found its way to centre Cowdell who jinked past one defender and then rounded another to score his second try wide out.
Shortly afterwards, Cowdell had to leave the field with a hamstring problem.
Otliensians were still creating space and opportunities with their back row of Ollie Cooper, Rob Arbuckle and Ali Campbell putting in good work at the breakdowns, but a dropped ball or a careless pass allowed York to kick the ball down the field for big gains in territory.
Despite being the lighter pack, the home forwards were making good ground driving upfield and from a ruck, some good inter-passing saw Rob Arbuckle barge over for a well-deserved try. The conversion by Hatton made it 29-5.
York then responded with some good interplay between their forwards and backs to push the home side back and they deservedly scored a converted try.
The last few minutes saw the hosts attack and eventually, Keinhorst sold a slick dummy before slipping a pass to Steve Wade who scored a try under the posts. Hatton tagged on the conversion to put the seal on his side’s victory.