BUFFALOES CLINCH FOURTH RLCN MINOR PREMIERSHIP
Bramley Buffaloes 28 (16) v Featherstone Lions 22 (0)
In a hard fought game at Stanningley on Sunday, Bramley Buffaloes clinched their fourth successive Minor Premiership following a hard fought 28-22 win over close rivals Featherstone Lions in front of a very good crowd.
Bramley made a few enforced changes to the team that beat Hemel two weeks previous, Graham Harrison, John Elliker, Andy McGann all returned to the team. Featherstone also had a couple of changes from the team that beat Huddersfield Underbank and Carlisle Centurions in short order a week ago. With the Minor Premiership at stake for Bramley and a top 2 or 3 placed finish for the Lions, there was plenty to play for.
Featherstone applied the early pressure as both teams made mistakes and conceded penalties; however it was the Buffaloes who drew first blood on 5 minutes when a high Drake cross-field kick was dropped by Frankland and Shaun Flynn swooped to collect the loose ball and score out wide. Drake added a top quality touch-line conversion. Two minutes later a Drake 40/20 put the Buffaloes back on the attack; however dropped ball released the pressure on the Lions defence. Bramley struggled to control the ball in the first half, a succession of poor passes went to ground and as a result Lions were able to build pressure. Shaun Flynn expertly defused a short kick through on ten minutes and Matt Mullholland did well to take a high bomb under pressure. Featherstone thought that had scored a try on twenty minutes when a misplaced Buffaloes pass on the Lions 20m line was hacked forward, however Fontaine was deemed to have been held back as he chased the ball and the try was disallowed. Richard Hulme was a growing influence on the game for the Buffaloes with some excellent running and tackling, on twenty three minutes he showed great strength to score by the posts taking 3 would be tacklers with him following good work in the build up by sub Craig Green. Drake missed the conversion. More good handling saw Fontaine score the Buffaloes third try on thirty four minutes, managing to roll over the line with Lions defenders all over him. Featherstone seemed to lose their way a bit in the last 15 minutes of the half as Bramley led 16-0 at the break. Buffaloes loose forward Jim Shuttleworth left the field on thirty-eight minutes with what looked like a serious arm/wrist injury, he took no further part in the game.
The Lions started the second half in impressive form as first Tom Coad collected a deft chip to cross in the corner on forty three minutes and then seven minutes later Byrom Cooper collected another kick through to score under the posts. Huby added one conversion and at 16-10 there was only a converted try in it. Featherstone were dominant as their forwards rolled forward on the back of quick play the ball, and the Buffaloes defence had all on to keep them from scoring again. However on 55 minutes after gaining their first meaningful possession of the second half, Bramley registered more points. After two good runs from dummy half, Buffaloes centre Matt Mullholland outstripped the Lions left hand defence and his perfectly weighted inside pass saw Jon Nicholls score a classy try. Drake’s conversion eased the tension as the Buffaloes re-established themselves back in the game. A Drake penalty three minutes later stretched the lead further after Fontaine suffered an attack to the head. The game ebbed and flowed for the next ten minutes and defences held sway, however on sixty nine minutes Jon Nicholls crossed for his second try after the Buffaloes received back-to-back penalties. 28-10 to Bramley with ten minutes to go. Featherstone produced a stirring finish with two late tries. On seventy four minutes hard working Adie Mulcahy took another superb chip to score and then almost on time Paul Watson took a superb cut-out pass to stroll through for another try, Huby converted both tries.
A great game, which was an excellent advert for the RLCN. Bramley look a strong team and you would not bet against them reaching another Grand Final, however both Featherstone and Underbank have sufficient quality to trouble any team on their day. With only one round of league games to go, try and get along and see a game in the Play-Offs as there should be some crackers.
Game star: John Elliker was the Buffaloes man-of-the-match, however the Buffaloes forwards take all the plaudits following a top effort.
Game breaker: Jon Nicholls second try on 69 minutes took the Buffaloes out to an unassailable lead despite a determined Lions late effort.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Andy McGann, 2. Nick Fontaine, 3. Matt Mullholland, 4. Dan Caston , 5. Shaun Flynn, 6. Paul Drake, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Chris Gardner, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Simon Speight, 11. John Elliker, 12. Richard Hulme, 13. Jim Shuttleworth, Subs (all used) 14. Craig Green, 15. Matthew Booth, 16. Steve Brown, 17. Steven Gill.
Tries: Flynn (5), Hulme (23), Fontaine (34), Nicholls (55 & 69)
Goals: Drake 4/6
Featherstone Lions: 1. Ian Jackson, 2. Tom Coad, 3. Byron Cooper, 4. Craig Wilby, 5. Richard Frankland, 6. Aide Mulcahy, 7. Adam Thaler, 8. Darren Fisher, 9. Dean Gamble, 10. Craig Barker, 11. Steve Laurie, 12. Danny Huby, 13. Mark Spears, Subs (all used) 14. Adam Jones, 15. Nathan Pincher, 16. Sam Wilson, 17. Paul Watson.
Tries: Coad (43), Cooper (50), Mulcahy (74), Watson (78)
Goals: Huby 3/4
Referee: Paul Carr
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: John Elliker
Featherstone Lions: Adam Jones