AFTER being demoted last season, Thornensians RUFC have so far been undefeated in Yorkshire Four, that was until Otliensians silenced the raucous home supporters, with a tremendous performance last Saturday.

After three days of rain, the pitch at Thorne looked in surprisingly good condition, for this top of the table clash. Ensians arrived with a strong squad, enjoying some depth in numbers this season. Utility man, Harry Wales was a welcome addition to fill in for injured Will Cooper in the centre.

The opening minutes where a slight cause for concern for the visitors, as Thorne set off with unrealistic fervour. This would haunt them later in the game when their energy levels appeared depleted. Despite having the majority of possession in the first 15 minutes, Thorne couldn’t convert this to points. Ensians’ defence was excellent and frustrated every incursion.

The first few scrums gave the referee an inclination that Thorne had the upper hand, but soon enough, out of position, Jay Walsh settled into his role, and stabilised the pack well, alongside his front row bed fellow, Luke Exley. After being pinned to the try line for several minutes, centre Jake Bentley eventually cleared the ball up to the halfway line, easing the pressure. Thorne fumbled the ball, giving Ensians a scrum. This time, nice and stable, giving nr 8, Will Rigg an opportunity to ‘pick and go’.

‘Riggy’ charged up field, legs pumping, drawing several men, before passing out to Bentley, who passed wide to Will Howarth on the left wing. With four men to beat, there was still work to be done. Zipping past the first three, and running straight over the covering full back, Howarth scored in the corner, and opened the account for the visitors. The conversion was a little too challenging for Bentley, but these first five points shifted the momentum in the visitors’ favour.

From the restart Thorne appeared dumbfounded and couldn’t hold back the visitors’ constant attacks. They struggled under the pressure and gave away a series of penalties in their desperate attempts to keep Ensians from scoring a second. The onslaught eventually proved too much for the home side’s defence and it concluded with Noel Gillson peeling off the maul, to score in the right corner. Again, a little out of range for the conversion, but the away side had a ten-point lead.

The hosts continued to lose control in the dying minutes of the half, increasingly frustrated with Ensians excellent defences. In the last play of the half, Thorne’s flanker charged into the maul from the side, giving the referee an easy decision for a penalty. This time with a more appealing angle for Bentley, he increased the lead to 13 points.

The home side opened the second half as they started the first, with a hunger for some points. The first time Ensians’ defence was breached was halfway into the second half, when Thorne’s centre chipped the ball through for their winger to ground. However, the kick was a little too strong, and the ball rolled dead.

With a long restart, and a Thorne knock on, Ensians regained possession deep into the opposition’s half. Anther stable scrum, followed by a driving maul, took Ensians tantalisingly close to the try line. This time Captain Sam Featherstone found himself in possession and barged over for try number three. Bentley now with his calibration set, kicked a lovely conversion to increase the lead to 20-0.

With only ten minutes to go Otliensians looked determined to keep the home side out, and their fitness paid dividends. Thorne however were desperate to get some points on the board, even if the win was looking out of their grasp.

They were boosted when two Ensians’ players were shown a yellow card by the referee and in the last play of the game, the ball was spun out wide, using the two men overlap to score in the corner. With the conversion unsuccessful the game closed at 20-5.

After the match coach Andy Hinchliffe commented: “We knew it was going to be a physical game, but we’d planned for this over the last few weeks, and I’m really pleased for the lads. They deserved it.”