IN a highly entertaining game with Sheffield, Otley nearly pulled off a dramatic win having been behind for most of the game.

Having caught the away side from South Yorkshire’s opening kick, Otley lost possession and then gave away a penalty in front of the posts with Elliot Fisher slotting the ball over for an early lead.

Otley were also quickly on the scoresheet. From inside their own half, Joe Rowntree’s play initiated a five-pass sequence which ended with a 30-metre run by Tom Parnell scoring close to the posts after three minutes, Rowntree adding the conversion.

Having stolen the ball in the tackle from Sheffield in their own half, the hosts moved into the opposition half where they were awarded a penalty, Rowntree getting the points from 35 metres out. After the restart Sheffield were halted outside Otley’s 22, but the home side were giving away soft penalties. From a line-out close to the clubhouse, with ten minutes gone Sheffield’s driving maul went for the line only to be pulled down earning them a penalty try and Otley a yellow card.

Otley lost possession again with a loose pass, this time in Sheffield’s half, and quick hands by the Blues saw them carve through Otley’s defence with Fisher going over under the posts making his subsequent conversion easier. Otley had time in the Sheffield half but couldn’t make it pay and slipped into their own half. A penalty took the opposition into the red zone, and although their maul was stopped in the corner Sheffield continued to hammer Otley’s line until prop Ianto Jones was able to get the ball onto the line. Fisher’s conversion made the score 24-10 in favour of the visitors.

From a line-out on the halfway line, Otley moved the ball into the centre where Gavin Stead broke through the line before passing to a speeding Sam Taylor who raced to the line. He was on the scoresheet again four minutes later when a clearance kick by Eddie Crossland bounced dead in Sheffield’s 22, Taylor taking the opportunity to run onto it and score in the corner. The touchline conversion was short so there was now just two points between the teams.

Realising they had a game on their hands, Sheffield went back to their driving maul and whilst Otley were able to stop the first assault, Jones was able to get over the line after their push had made some 20 metres. Otley got within five metres of Sheffield’s line, but two penalties took them back to their own. Opting for a scrum, scrum-half Fisher went right to forcing his way over, his conversion bringing the half-time whistle.

With a 16-point deficit, Otley knew any further opposition scores could be too big a bridge to cross. Early in the second half, they defended their try line with an excellent 24 phase set, some just centimetres from their line, which ended when Sheffield knocked-on in the tackle. Whilst they got out of their half, a kick-and-chase attack down the left by Sheffield was only foiled when Crossland fell on the ball in his dead ball area.

Now in their own half, Sheffield changed their front row only to give control away with a loose line-out ball. From the scrum, Otley’s backs linked up with Taylor’s run between the two mid-way lines passing to Stead who ran the remaining 21 metres to score with Rowntree getting his third conversion. Unfortunately, this try was cancelled out four minutes later when replacement prop George Rogers went over after a five-metre drive.

Otley kept Sheffield hemmed in getting a scrum on their 22 and, having moved the ball from across the pitch, Crossland’s kick into the corner was plucked out of the air by Taylor who landed to score his hat-trick try. Sensing something was on, the hosts maintained the pressure and when Taylor caught his own kick he nearly made it to the line before he was tackled. He was able to get the ball to Sam Hodge who quickly passed in onto Ben Dinsdale who dived over. Stead’s conversion meant there was only four points between the sides with nine minutes to go.

Sheffield went down to 14 when Christian Hooper took out Taylor again leaping for the ball to get a possible fourth. Opting for a scrum, Otley pummelled the Sheffield line before being awarded another penalty and it was only a huge defensive effort that kept Otley from scoring again, as the result ended 45-41 to the visitors.

Otley are again at home this Saturday when they take on bottom of the league, Huddersfield, kick off 2.15pm