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Otley snatch victory from the jaws of defeat
Buy this photo » Otley winger James Twomey, taking on Bromsgrove centre Charles Jones, had little opportunity to add to the five tries he has scored already this season
Otley 24, Bromsgrove 18
Otley’s forwards coach Mark Luffman might have found a pocket calculator a handy accompaniment for their first three SSE National League Two North games of the season.
That trio of matches totalled 210 points, and Luffman remarked “We had an average score of 39-31.”
Otley preserved their 100 per cent record to remain second by defeating Bromsgrove last Saturday – but it was a close-run thing.
They trailed 18-9 to the Midlanders with five minutes of normal time remaining but then scored three tries in the next seven minutes via Jack Mackie, Daniel Temm and skipper Adam Blades.
However, Otley made the worst of starts. Flanker Temm spilled the kick-off, Bromsgrove centre Charles Jones sliced through Otley’s first line of defence and put full back Aaron Higgins in for a try after just 27 seconds, fly half Jonathan Critchlow missing the conversion from inches infield of the right-hand touchline.
But at least the hosts replied when they had their first attack, Bromsgrove falling offside just outside their 22 and Otley fly half Ben Cooper doing the necessary.
Bromsgrove looked as if they got away with being offside from their first kick-off but there was no such luck when they restarted again, referee William Halford pinging them on a day when he didn’t particularly please either side.
The main defensive tactic from the solid visitors seemed to be to knock-on when Otley were in possession, and there was definitely an edge to the game, which was confirmed when Temm and Higgins grappled with each other on the touchline.
Bromsgrove went back into a five-point lead when Otley full back Chris Gemmell spilled the first up and under of the afternoon, a team-mate picking up the ball in an offside position.
Critchlow converted to make it 8-3 after 18 minutes but Cooper responded seven minutes later and Otley were given a man advantage when Bromsgrove’s right winger Sam Bastock was yellow carded in the 27th minute for obstructing Michael Coady after the Otley left winger kicked through.
But Otley couldn’t capitalise and Critchlow’s second penalty in the 36th minute gave Bromsgrove an 11-6 advantage at half-time.
Otley prop Toby Williams running over Bromsgrove centre Tom Millen early in the second half seemed to spark up Otley, and Cooper’s third penalty hauled them back to 11-9 but the hosts were denied a try when flanker Johnathan Matthews put a foot in touch in the 54th minute.
Even worse, Otley paid a high price for a knock-on by full back Chris Gemmell immediately after.
That gave Bromsgrove an excellent attacking platform and they pulled the home defence left and then right before Higgins went over for his second try in the 57th minute.
Critchlow’s conversion extended the advantage to 18-9 but the visitors were to pay the ultimate penalty for yellow cards to second row Steven Smith (65 minutes) and Higgins (78 minutes).
Centre Mackie scored for the Cross Greeners in the 75th minute after they had also pulled Bromsgrove from one side of the field to the other, Temm put the hosts in front by scoring in the 78th minute, and prop Blades finished off a spirited comeback with a try in the second minute of stoppage time.