DESPITE their position in the league, Burnage made Otley work for their win on Saturday.

This win, together with results elsewhere, means that Otley will return to National League 2 rugby next season.

Having gathered the kick-off, Otley made their way upfield catching Burnage offside in their 22. From 5 metres out, Jack Scott-Paul took the penalty line-out ball before returning to the back of the maul to touch down after 3 minutes, Joe Rowntree converting. Otley got a second penalty after the resumption, but struggled to get out of their half before losing the ball.

From their scrum Burnage launched their first attack, Luke Cox just losing the ball in the tackle just as he was about to score. Otley broke out of their half with Gavin Stead and Finn Dewar combining, before Ben Waddington ran 30 metres before being tackled. A penalty to Burnage saw the pressure relieved followed by a 50:22. Cox again came close to scoring but Kai Fagan followed up to get the ball over the line, Rhys Evans levelling the scores.

Otley took the game to Burnage but good defensive work made it difficult to progress, until Stead broke through the 22 line and the home side conceding a penalty metres from the posts. Opting for a scrum, having driven forward they get another penalty. The second scrum was again marched forward, Adam Malthouse touching down early in the second quarter.

Burnage used both wings to respond, Otley conceding a penalty just inside their 22 and Evans’ kick reduced the deficit after 25 minutes. Otley nearly confined Burnage to their half, runs from Brett Mitchell and Straun Connor keeping the pressure up. When they did get out of their half, they held onto the ball for too long giving the impetus back to Otley. With a line-out on the right-hand flank they moved the ball across the pitch peppering the Burnage line, with another penalty in the bag Eddie Crossland then jinxed his way through to score from just outside their 22.

Two penalties by Otley just inside the Burnage half gave the home side the platforms to launch attacks from within Otley’s 22. The second ended in a try when flanker Louis Hicks caught his own 10 metre kick over the Otley defence before passing to prop Sam Wilson who went over under the posts. Connor’s run cancelled out Burnage’s clearance kick who were then penalised and marched back 10 metres. From the line-out five metres out, Otley pushed Burnage back with Luke Cole getting the bonus point try. Rowntree’s conversion bought the half time whistle with the score at 17-28.

The third quarter did not bring any points for either side, both sides attacking but were also guilty of making mistakes nullifying their efforts. Otley slowly began to win the territorial battle, and were also getting the upper hand in the scrum leading to prop Alex Becica spending 10 minutes on the side-line. From a penalty line-out in the right hand corner, Otley’s forwards moved the ball towards the posts but Malthouse’s push over the line was held up.

Burnage soon conceded another penalty, although Otley could not touch down. Having taken the ball to their 10 metre line, Burnage they were soon back defending their back line. Luke Cole came close to getting his second and, having recycled the ball, replacement scrum half Phil Wickham dived over on 71 minutes.

From the line-out on Otley’s 22, Burnage were taken back into their own half from where they launched another attack. Getting a series of penalties in Otley’s 22 as they battered the visitor’s line, Freddie Wilson finally scored in the left hand corner, 22-33 at FT.