ON A cold, wet and blustery day, Otley maintained their position at the top of the table with a convincing win against Lymm.

The Cheshire visitors came to Cross Green on the back of six straight wins, but Otley’s forward pack put paid any ambition they might have had.

Otley kicked off towards the Chevin and kept Lymm pinned in their half. An Eddie Crossland grubber kick put the ball into Lymm’s corner although their line-out wasn’t straight. From the scrum, Otley moved the ball out wide for Struan Connor to score in the right hand corner after six minutes.

Four minutes later, Otley doubled their score when, after another scrum, Ben Waddington broke through the Lymm line passing to Callum Irvine who went onto score in the opposite corner.

After the restart Lymm managed to get within two metres of the try-line after Otley were caught offside, but the hosts were able to turn the ball over with Dan Preston-Routledge breaking out.

The remainder of the half was played between the 22s, the deadlock nearly being broken when Finn Dewar had sight of the line but Otley were pulled back for an earlier penalty infringement by Lymm. Opting for a scrum, Otley got into their 22 down the left hand side, before moving the ball across the pitch with Connor getting his second to the right of the posts.

Early Otley pressure in the second half didn’t bring any results, and Lymm were able to get into the hosts’ half through two penalties. A third, for offside, inside Otley’s 22 saw a quick tap and go, the ball going right with Harry Martin scoring in the corner. The restart, on 50 minutes, saw Otley get a red card for a no arms tackle.

Two minutes later, Gregor Watson, Lymm’s scrum-half took a yellow for tackling Joe Rowntree within 10 metres of a restart.

The subsequent restart was put into the right-hand corner 15 metres from the line, Otley’s forwards driving Lymm back apace with Adam Malthouse touching down. Rowntree’s conversion made the score 22-5.

Lymm’s James Horton soon followed Watson to the sin-bin, Otley opting for another scrum in the visitor’s 22. With yet another penalty in the bag, Crossland’s cross-field kick to the cemetery corner setting up Dewar to score Otley’s 400th home point this season.

Irvine goaled the conversion. Just when Lymm were back up to full strength, replacement Dan Norton was given another yellow. With Otley frequently getting penalties at the scrum, Otley opted for another and Dewar nearly got his second but was taken into touch.

Lymm momentarily got into Otley’s half, but were unable to hold onto the ball. From the restart Otley moved the ball across to Dewar on the right hand flank who made it to Lymm’s 22 before being high tackled.

From the scrum, Dewar and Irvine combined to set up Connor for his hat-trick try in the left hand corner.

After the restart Lymm got within five metres of Otley’s line, but their man was held up in the tackle giving possession back to Otley. Replacement scrum-half Ben Gould got the ball to Crossland who kicked the ball dead to bring the game to a satisfactory conclusion, Otley winning 34-5.

Prior to kick-off, The dining room was full for the Otley RUFC Absent Friends lunch , as the club celebrated old playing comrades, club members and volunteers and all those, as it was phrased in Chairman, Paul Mackie's opening welcome, "are no longer available for selection".

Diners were encouraged to share stories and their memories of their friends and family with each other and on some of the tables periodic impromptu toasts to old comrades were heard. After lunch, in a brief speech, Tony Wright, a guest from Lymm RUFC, spoke of his memories of beating the All Blacks at Otley in 1979. He was outside centre playing for the North of England.

After lunch, guests were invited to mingle and visit other tables to further share their reminisces.

Appropriately, with the flag at half mast, the players and spectators gave a minute's applause before kick off.