Otley 5 Sheffield 20

THERE was little to cheer about at Cross Green on Saturday when Otley stumbled to a defeat against fellow strugglers Sheffield.

In fact, it was the referee who drew the loudest approbation on the few times Otley were awarded a free-kick or a penalty, they were seemingly not on his wavelength as the visitors were given endless opportunities to ease pressure or attain attacking positions.

Despite once again having to re-jig their backs Otley made a bright start, moving the ball confidently, but Sheffield, on their first venture, by way of a penalty, to the home 22 were awarded another, in front of the posts.

It gave scrum-half Steve Depledge, who had little success from there in his time at Otley, the chance to open the scoring in the ninth minute.

The home side quickly replied when full-back Tom Hudson broke through the middle with good support.

Scrum-half Max Johnson finished off the move by side-stepping his way over only to suffer a dislocated elbow from a clumsy late tackle.

A second Depledge penalty put Sheffield ahead and their defence was sound when both home wingers attacked their respective corners.

A rare penalty set up a line-out on the visitors’ 22 from where a strong drive took them to the line, but the ball was lost.

Inevitably, Sheffield, in a similar position made sure. Flanker Sean Casey grounded with Depledge converting to secure a 13-5 half-time lead.

The second-half proceeded in much the same manner. Three more times Otley lost possession near the line while Sheffield, hammering away at the home line, managed to retain the ball and be rewarded with a penalty try.

There was still 30 minutes remaining, but Otley could make no inroads to the deficit and a game they had earmarked for a positive result brought nothing except more injuries.