BUFFALOES GO CLEAR AT TOP OF TABLE
by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes 28 (18) v Huddersfield Underbank 12 (0)
This was the first meeting of the Bramley Buffaloes and Huddersfield Underbank since the two teams met in last season’s Grand Final at Warrington, on a cloudy, blustery afternoon at the Arthur Miller Stadium it was the Buffaloes who again ran out winners with another solid home display, despatching Underbank 28-12.
The Buffaloes came off a win at home against Featherstone Lions two weeks ago; they had no game last weekend, whilst Huddersfield overcame a gutsy Nottingham team in a points fest at The Cross ground last weekend. Bramley welcomed back Andy McGann for only his second start of the season, Andy Wormald made his first appearance of the season off the bench and Jon Nicholls was back at scrum half following injury. There was no Danny Mitchell, Nick Fontaine, Graham Harrison or Junior Brandford for the Buffaloes, Scott Pendlebury after two sterling performances has gone back into retirement! Underbank were missing their two influential centres Shaun Mitchell and Adam Ryder as well as Lee St Hilaire who has been in outstanding form so far this season. Adam Carroll was also unavailable, however Underbank were able to welcome back Dave Valentine and Sam Housley. Stephen Berry and Napoleoni Vinaka stepped up from the bench to start this week.
Both teams started in a positive manner, tackling strongly and looking to complete their opening sets. Underbank defended their line well early on as the Buffaloes looked to post early points after getting a repeat set of 6 tackles. Jimmy Waddington the Buffaloes full back chimed into the attacking line and looked to have got an opening only for Neil Barrett to cling on and produce a top tackle to haul him down short of the line. Huddersfield Underbank were struggling to get in to the Buffaloes half, however back-to-back penalties seemed to have remedied that only for the ball to be lost in the first tackle. Bramley forded a drop out on 15 minutes when an astute Williams kick was hacked dead. The Buffaloes made their pressure count on 16 minutes when Richard Hulme, who had been held up short moments earlier, spun out of a tackle and crashed over the line from close range. Paul Drake converted. Richard Hulme was influential in all facets of the Buffaloes play all afternoon, and four minutes later his quick flat pass found Dan Lavery close to the line and the big man proved unstoppable from close range. Drake again converted, 12-0. Having been denied possession, Underbank now found themselves with the ball and Alexis-Bailey went close as Underbank tested the Buffaloes goal-line defence for the first time on 22 minutes. A penalty relieved the pressure on the Buffaloes line who scored their third try moments later. Hulme charged down a kick and the loose ball was collected 40m out by Matt Mullholland, quick hands then put Mullholland in space and he held off two tacklers to stretch over wide out on the right. Drake added another superb touchline conversion. Bramley stepped up the pressure on Underbank who did well repel a series of darting attacks. Buffaloes lost Paul Gledhill to an ankle injury soon after coming on and Danny Johnson nearly scored until he decided to off-load in the tackle with the line at his mercy. Underbank almost found a way through the Buffaloes defence on 38 minutes following a little grubber kick close to the line; however Simon Speight coolly collected and raced 20m to clear his line. The half ended with Underbank losing James Smith with a shoulder injury and Dave Valentine being sin-binned.
Huddersfield Underbank made a much improved start to the second half. They had more ball and were able to apply more consistent pressure to the Buffaloes defence. Bramley did not help themselves by turning over some cheap ball close to their line. It looked as though the Buffaloes may just do enough to keep their line intact, however inventive play and quick hands saw the ball find its way to Leon Alexis-Bailey who showed good determination and speed to get out of 2 would-be tackles and score close to the posts. Nathan Williams converted. Underbank visibly grew in confidence and continued to look more threatening than at any time in the game so far. A towering kick by Tom Anthony was well taken by Andy McGann on his own line who then raced 40m up-field to turn defence in to attack. Tony Williams scored a good try in the right hand corner after the Buffaloes had gone nearly the length of the field with a superb attacking movement, the ball kept alive ‘basketball’ style. There was no conversion this time. Defences then took over as the game moved towards the hour mark. Once again Underbank showed a willingness to be inventive, from a scrum deep in their own half they kicked immediately long downfield. Although there was a very good chase by Underbank there appeared to be no danger as three Buffaloes players converged on the bouncing ball, however a fumble and hack forward allowed Alex Chatterton to score easily by the posts. Williams again converted to narrow the deficit to 10 points. Bramley re-gained some momentum as they forced another Underbank drop-out on 68 minutes; however the game was evenly balanced as another Underbank score could have set up a very interesting finish. Underbank tried another long kick direct from a scrum, this time Andy McGann was able to tidy up safely at the back and launch a counter attack. From this set Tony Williams showed his strength to evade several tackles and score midway between the posts and the corner flag to close the game out with 8 minutes remaining. There was no further action of note as the game petered out in the final few minutes.
A tight tussle that was probably won and lost in the first half. The Buffaloes showed good discipline and a cutting edge in the first half, whereas Underbank were unable to get any flow or momentum to their game. In the second half Underbank had more ball and much better field position, they capitalised on some Buffaloes lost ball and ill discipline and put some points on the board. The Buffaloes however had enough about them to be able register more points and they always looked threatening when close to the line.
Game star: Once again it the Buffaloes No.9 Richard Hulme who caught the eye with a fine all round performance which was acknowledged by both coaches after the game. He scored the opening try, set up the second and was always a threat in attack. As usual he got through an enormous amount of slid tackling. Richard is in outstanding form at the moment.
Game breaker: Tony Williams second try 8 minutes from time sealed the points for the Buffaloes. A 16 point lead was too big a gap for Underbank to recover in the last few minutes.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jimmy Waddington, 2. Andy McGann, 3. Matt Mullholland, 4. Matthew Booth, 5. John Richardson, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Dan Lavery, 11. Simon Speight, 12. Danny Johnson, 13. Paul Drake, Subs: 14. Dan Caston, 15. Craig Green, 16. Andy Wormald, 17. Paul Gledhill.
Tries: Williams (52 & 72), Hulme (16), Lavery (20), Mullholland (28)
Goals: Drake 4/5
Huddersfield Underbank: 1. Nathan Williams, 2. Leon Alexis-Bailey, 3. Dean Bradshaw, 4. Alex Chatterton, 5. Richard Aka, 6. Neil Barrett, 7. Tom Antony, 8. Dave Valentine, 9. Stephen Berry, 10. Napoleoni Vinaka, 11. James Smith, 12. Sam Housley, 13. Tom Sharrock, Subs: 14. Courtney Allette, 15. James Bodsworth, 16. Paul Horsfall, 17. Craig Williams.
Tries: Alexis-Bailey (45), Chatterton (59)
Goals: Williams 2/2
Final score: 28-12
Penalty Count: 16(9)-10(4)
Referee: Chris Waywell
Sin-Bin: Dave Valentine (Underbank) 39 mins
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Richard Hulme
Huddersfield Underbank: Nathan Williams
Next game: Saturday 26 June 2010
Opponents: Hemel Stags