BUFFALOES DEFENCE SETS STANDARD
by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes 46 (24) v Wigan Riversiders 2 (2)
If a strong defence wins you titles and cups then Bramley Buffaloes coach Mark Butterill must have been pleased with the commitment shown in defence by his players on Sunday as they overcame a gutsy Wigan Riversiders, 46-2 in a pre-season friendly.
Wigan play in the North-West Summer Conference Premier league and they provided a useful first test for the Buffaloes. Bramley had four new players in their team as well as four players returning to the club for second spells. Even with these additions and missing several established regulars, Paul Drake, Shaun Flynn, Andy McGann, Chris Gardner, Nick Fontaine, the Buffaloes were too powerful in every department for the Riversiders who battled gamely throughout.
Kicking into a strong wind Bramley regained possession from the kick-off, then promptly lost it with a knock-on. Both sides made handling errors early on and the Buffaloes also conceded two early penalties, the second on three minutes saw Riversiders full-back Greg Brown land a straightforward penalty to edge the visitors in front. Wigan completed their next set and Bramley had to come away from their own 20m line which they did through an excellent Richard Hulme break, on the back of a penalty for holding down, captain Richard Leese was held up over the try line. From the re-start Tony Williams on the sixth tackle but in a deft kick towards the Wigan left hand defence, Matt Mullholland rose highest and palmed the bal back to winger Craig Green who did well to squeeze in at the corner. There was no conversion. On 10 minutes John Elliker stole the ball in the tackle, released centre John Richardson who made good metres before prop Daniel Lavery showed good strength to cross in almost the same place as the previous try. Again there was no conversion from wide out into a strong wind. For the next 15 minutes Bramley dominated their opponents without posting anymore points. They were strong in the tackle and restricted Wigan to hopefully kicks down field in order to relive pressure. New Bramley full back Jimmy Waddington showed up well, confident under the high ball and then quick on his feet. The Buffaloes rustiness showed at times as some excellent passing moves were let down by either poor passes or poor ball retention. On 25 minutes Richardson was held up over the line and shortly afterwards Matthew Booth put in a beautiful inside pass to the on-rushing John Elliker who proved unstoppable from 5m out. Tony Williams easily converted, 14-2. Three minutes later Brown failed to gather a Williams chip kick and Hulme collected the loose ball and crossed from 10m for the Buffaloes fourth try, again Williams converted. As the first half drew to a close Wigan attacked the Bramley line, however a pass went astray in the Bramley 10m zone and winger Aidy Manley gathered the ball, hugged the touchline and went the length of the field to score. The half ended with Wigan’s King requiring prolonged treatment as the team left the field, 24-2 to the Buffaloes.
Mark Butterill made a number of player changes in the second half in order to give all his 19 man team a run-out. This inevitably led to a lack of cohesion at times in the Buffaloes play; however they still posted four more unanswered tries. Wigan proved determined opponents who tackled manfully throughout but were ultimately unable to make any meaningful metres with the ball, and therefore unable to apply any sustained pressure on the Buffaloes line. John Elliker got his second try on 51 minutes, another close range effort; then Matt Mullholland emulated Aidy Manley’s first half effort with another long range try courtesy of dropped ball deep in the Bramley half. Danny Johnson somehow wrestled himself free from 3 or 4 would be tacklers to go over from 30m on 62 minutes. Five minutes later he put in a massive hit on a Wigan player in centre field who coughed up the ball, Junior Brandford made impressive metres down the centre before sending out a looping pass to Richardson to score, Booth added a magnificent touchline conversion, 46-2. The game petered out in the final few minutes and Bramley ran out comfortable winners.
Overall a good work out for the Bramley team who without ever hitting the heights in attack demonstrated a brutal defence. Wigan were competitive throughout and never stopped trying, stand out player for them was loose forward Marc Simon who had a quality game. Bramley had a number of very good performers, notably Jimmy Waddington who looked excellent, Dave Parker ran hard and strong as did fellow prop Dan Lavery. Tony Williams as always looked to have oceans of time to move play around and we can only hope he has the same effect on games as he did in 2008 when he played. Junior Brandford ran strongly as did Richard Hulme, otherwise it was a solid first outing for all the players.
Game star: Jimmy Waddington continues a line of reliable Buffaloes full-backs. Good with ball in hand, plenty of pace and positional play was also excellent. Always made good metres going forward and could be devastating in broken field play.
Game breaker: Three tries in 9 first half minutes took the game out of reach of the Riversiders.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jimmy Waddington, 2. Craig Green, 3. Matt Mullholland, 4. John Richardson, 5. Aidy Manley, 6. Matthew Booth, 7. Tony Williams, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Daniel Lavery, 11. John Elliker, 12. Simon Speight, 13. Dan Caston. Subs: 14. Junior Brandford, 15. Graham Harrison, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Danny Johnson, 18. Darren Greenwood, 19.Andy Jordan,
Tries: Green (6), Lavery (9), Elliker (28 & 51), Hulme (32), Manley (35), Mullholland (56), Johnson (62), Richardson (66)
Goals: Williams 3/7, Booth 2/2
Wigan Riversiders: 1. Greg Brown, 2. Dave Vaal, 3. Robert Allard, 4. Matt Balkwell, 5. Geoff Whittle, 6. Simon Atherton, 7. Phil King, 8. Neil Savage, 9. Craig Johnson 10. Shaun Norton, 11. John Baybutt, 12. Peter Gregory, 13. Marc Simon. Subs: 14. James Wood, 15. Alex Austin, 16. Ste Taylor, 17. Johnny Blan
Goals: Brown 1/1
Final score: 46-2
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Jimmy Waddington
Wigan Riversiders: Shaun Norton
Next game: Sunday 11 April 2010
Opponents: South London Storm
Kick-off: 3.00 pm