HOPING to continue their winning streak, and keep second place Thornensians at bay, last Saturday Otliensians were welcomed by a convivial crowd at York RI.

In the first few minutes of the game, inside centre Jake Bentley made a sortie out of his own 22. Knowing he wasn’t going to make it all the way, Bentley launched a lofted overhead pass out to winger Declan Jackson, who gathered and continued the charge. Drawing three York defenders, before passing back inside to Bentley in support. A well-deserved try from the centre, but the conversion was out of reach.

York came back with surprising vigour, mainly thanks to their hefty prop, who proved difficult to fell on a number of occasions. Halfway inside Ensians’ half, the home side were awarded a penalty, giving the first glimpse of their excellent outside centre’s kicking skills. Drafted in only that morning from the University to help bolster RI’s numbers, he was easily recognisable in his “Lee Halfpenny’ style scrum cap, and York University socks. With a successful penalty kick, Ensian’s lead was narrowed to just two points.

The referee then gifted York a penalty and it was successfully kicked put York in the lead for the first time in the game.

One point down, and only ten minutes into the game, Otliensians knew they had to quickly turn the tables. Moments after the restart Ensians’ number eight, Will Rigg went on a brilliant solo charge up field; seeing the defence drifting towards him, he skilfully chipped the ball into space for winger Will Howarth to chase. As usual, Howarth won the race, and with only a marginal reduction in speed, picked up the ball, to cruise over the line to score. Again, the conversion too testing for Bentley, but five welcome points, to regain the lead.

York then cleared for touch and scrum half Rob Lofthouse cleverly opted for a quick line out. The ball was worked to Eaves who chipped the ball over the defence for Howarth to chase and gather. Another successful try for Howarth, but the conversion was again frustratingly elusive for Bentley. Now with a nine-point lead, Otliensians started to ‘motor’.

Shortly after, with a line out on the 5m line, Ensians where keen to seal the half with another score. York won the ball but struggled to clear under the dogged pressure from Harry Gillson. The referee then blew for a penalty in favour of the home side and captain Sam Featherstone's protestations about the ‘possible’ infringement fell on def ears, and the half closed at 15-6 to the visitors.

The second half saw the ‘birth’ of hooker Craig Nicholson, who had a fantastic game. He was remarkably nimble, and when he found himself in possession 20m out, there was no stopping him, even with two York players on his back. This time the kicking duties were handed over to centre Connor Bateman, but once again the extra points proved evasive.

Seconds into the restart Nicholson found himself in possession again and set off on a 30m gallop before passing out to prop Luke Exley in support. Fans thought Exley would surely pass out to the supporting backs, but instead sold a ‘cheeky’ dummy, and bustled his way over to score. Increasing the lead to 19 points. With four missed conversions, there was a sigh of relief when Bateman successfully broke the trend and increased the lead to 21 points.

No sooner had they extended their lead, they found themselves over once again through Howarth, who blasted his way over to score his third try of the day, far in the left corner.

Howarth then scored his fourth of the day with the clock ticking down, and after the conversion was kicked, ended the game at 39-6 to Otliensians.

The focus now will be Saturday’s Yorkshire Vase game against rivals Airborough, with KO 2:15pm at Chaffers Field.