OTLEY chalked up another five-point win against eighth-placed Wirral on Saturday to stay top of the league.

Wirral started the game playing towards their clubhouse with a cold stiff wind blowing across the pitch. Otley’s first attack got within five metres of the host’s line, but they gave away a penalty. Wirral then took the game to Otley, Killene Thornton breaking through the Otley defence taking the game to Otley’s 22, but the visitors were able to absorb the pressure and got the ball away.

Wirral then knocked on at the line out and then conceded a penalty, Eddie Crossland putting it into the right hand corner. Having secured the line-out, two pick and goes set up the platform for Reece Ward to score his first try after 13 minutes. Otley’s next try came after Wirral were penalised again, this time for coming in at the side. Electing for a scrum, Otley’s pack seeing Ward over for his second try, Joe Rowntree adding his second conversion.

Otley’s third try came after they were able to take the ball from a Wirral scrum in their half. Otley then moved the ball quickly into the opposition half on the right hand side, across to the left and back again, with Ben Waddington battling through their defence to touch down and Rowntree adding the extras on the half hour. Before the game restarted, Otley emptied their bench.

Towards half time a Wirral penalty gave them a line-out in Otley’s half, but they knocked on at the line-out. However, at the scrum Otley gave away a penalty giving Wirral a five metre line-out. This time they held onto the ball, and with ball in hand Nick Hearn went over with Ben Brooks converting. One further attack by Otley didn’t trouble the scorers and the half time score remained 7-21.

Early in the second half, Wirral had the opportunity to reduce the deficit but the long range penalty kick went wide. Having ripped the ball from Wirral, Otley later get a penalty later in the move, kicking the ball into the left hand corner. The ball went out to the backs, Gavin Stead’s final pass to Finn Dewar saw him scoring. Otley’s fifth try came after Crossland sells a dummy and then weaved his way through to score under the posts, which he duly converted. Otley again emptied their bench.

Re-invigorated Otley scored a further four tries in the last quarter of the match starting with Ward getting his third which Rowntree, now back on, converted. After the restart Otley were awarded a penalty which maintained the pressure, Crossland going over for his second after 73 minutes. Back in Wirral’s 22, Elliot Morgan intercepted a long pass by Wirral 10 metres out and went to the line to notch up Otley’s 50 with three minutes to go.

The final restart went straight into touch, Otley launching an attack from half-way line with Duncan Darling being taken into touch on the left hand flank. Wirral’s line-out was overlong, giving the ball back to Otley. Taking the ball into the centre, they brought it back again, Rowntree’s pass to Darling giving him the space in the corner to score his debut try and the scrum half’s conversion was followed by the final whistle. FT: Wirral 7, Otley 57

Otley have a week’s break before returning to Cross Green when they play Alnwick on March 26. Alnwick sit fifth in the league, having won more away games than they have lost, and are one of the few sides Otley haven’t got a bonus point against – yet.