by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes finally left the field at West Hull on Saturday nearly two hours after the game had first started with an invaluable two points as they continued their impressive run towards the play-offs. A final score of 32-38 does not begin to tell the many twists, turns and quite farcical circumstances that took place before a hard fought win was achieved.
The Buffaloes team showed a number of changes to that that defeated Hunslet Warriors the previous week. The West Hull Lions ‘A’ team contained only four players that had played in the fixture at Bramley earlier in the season. This game was a real ‘six pointer’ as both teams held realistic ambitions of finishing second in the table, and the Lions could still grab top spot from Skirlaugh if results went their way.
Thankfully the sweltering hot weather had given way to grey cloud and touch of moisture in the air when the Lions kicked with a strong wind at their backs. Their kick-off went out on the full and the Buffaloes took full advantage of a restart on half way and a penalty two tackles later to post the first points of the game when Daz Forster crashed over from 10m out. His conversion held up in the wind but the Buffaloes held an early advantage. This advantage was short lived as the Buffaloes turned over possession almost immediately and Ledger ran unopposed to score under the posts after a loose carry, Colrein easily converted. On eight minutes poor Bramley tackling and a suspicion of a forward pass or two saw Ledger cross again in the right hand corner. Colrein added an excellent touchline conversion, 12-4 Lions.
The Buffaloes re-grouped and Aaron Blake made a superb 40m break down the centre of the field, unfortunately there was no support play and the chance came and went. However the Lions then turned over possession to Bramley and Jerome Malcolm squeezed over in the corner to reduce the deficit. There was no conversion. As the game reached the midway point of the first half it was clear that both teams carried an attacking threat but that both defences needed to tighten up. Also by this time the referee had penalised both teams with the Buffaloes being worst hit. The referee was in danger of losing control of the game but persisted with some bizarre decision-making that affected and frustrated both teams. Nevertheless Bramley wrestled the initiative back on 21 minutes when Omar Al-Rawi put in a great long kick that was enthusiastically chased by Blake and Malcolm. The lions pinned close to their line lost the ball under pressure and Blake gratefully scooped up the ball to score unchallenged under the posts, Forster converted. Within two minutes the Lions were back in front after Chris Thompson had the ball stripped in the tackle and Staples ran in for an easy score, 18-14. To their credit Bramley responded immediately and Ben Dean’s superb drop-off pass was well read by Jerome who ran a great diagonal line to coast in under the posts, Daz Forster converted again. The game continued to ebb and flow one way than the other and this was cruelly so on 36 minutes when a high Lions speculative kick hit the ground and bounced wildly like a googly straight into the hands of Staples who scored his second try, Colrein converted. As half-time approached there still remained time for Jerome Malcolm and Lions Liam Robinson to be sent to the sin bin and for Liam Copland to score a great solo try on the stroke of half time, showing good strength and even better footwork to go in under the posts. Liam converted his own try as Daz took a well-deserved breather on the sidelines. 24-26 and the game was in the balance. Bramley had shown great spirit to keep fighting back and enough quality to suggest that if they continued to play rugby they could take something out of the game. For the record the first half lasted nearly 50 minutes.
Neither coach, or, set of players could have been happy with the referees very inconsistent display in the first half, so it was no surprise that a Lions player and coach had a good 5 minute chat (debate?) with the referee during half-time (is that allowed?). Prior to the second half commencing the referee then announced that the Lions were leading 30-26! He refused to debate this further with Gilly or speak to myself. Eventually he chose to speak to the Lions coaching staff and took their word that the score was 24-26 and that he was wrong, a truly bizarre passage of non-play, with further eroded confidence in his performance and ability to handle the game.
There was much scepticism on the sidelines in regard to the amount of time played in the first half and where it all came from (despite us scoring last), the referee ability to keep score, the amount of penalties conceded by the Buffaloes and the apparent lack of action against Lions players for head shots, leading with the elbow and working over players on the ground. It is fair to say that there was a degree of tension as the second half started with Bramley kicking off. The kick off landed in-goal and out, the referee waived away Bramley protestations and signalled a penalty on halfway to the Lions…. only to change his mind and decide to restart the game again with another kick-off! That very much set the tone for the next 20 minutes as both teams sought to assert themselves and get the crucial next score. This passage of play was littered with mistakes by both teams, penalties almost every set of six and crucially, no flowing rugby. Bramley probably held sway in terms of field position but possession was even with the Lions rarely threatening the Buffaloes red-zone.
On 60 minutes the game erupted and as crazy as it had been at times for the previous 60 minutes, nothing prepared players, coaches or spectators for what was a train wreck of a last 20 minutes. Johnny Bradley was sent to the sin bin on 61 minutes, followed almost immediately by Ben Dean for a dangerous tackle. Two minutes later by Buffaloes Phil Egan and Lions Steve Stamp also got 10 minutes, as did Buffaloes Phil Marson. As Bramley sought to organise themselves, two more players also fell foul of the referee and were about to be sin-binned as well before Omar pointed out that the game would have to be abandoned, as we would only have 7 players on the field! The referee relented and we continued with 12 v 9. A Bramley penalty failed to find touch and we paid the ultimate price as the Lions spun the ball wide and lack of numbers saw Craig Carter score a good individual try in the corner to edge the Lions back in front again. Colrein thought he added a good conversion but the referee waived away coach and player’s protestations, 28-26. On 70 minutes Jamie Hodgkinson scored what a lot of people though would be the killer try to take the Lions out to a 32-26 lead. Once again Bramley responded though with a never-say-die attitude that will hold them in good stead for the weeks to come. Still playing with only nine men and desperate to get players out of the bin they attacked for what we thought might be the last time but as nobody knew how long was left t play the whole scene was chaos. Alex Brier again showed great strength and no little determination to squeeze in at the corner, setting off wild scenes amongst the travelling Buffalo army of fans. Step up Daz Forster to nail a quite superb conversion under pressure from the sideline, 32-32. Regaining possession the Buffaloes rolled downfield on the back of some huge runs from Gaz Hudson and Kenny Parker. Bramley declined a penalty on half way as Daz looked like he fancied a kick at goal but instead Omar kicked us to 30m out. Both Jerome and Gaz were held up on the Lions line as we came agonisingly close to scoring with surely only seconds left to play? A drop goal seemed inevitable as Omar dropped back, but that never came. Both teams then turned over possession quickly before Aaron Blake slice through with a determined run to score under the posts, Daz easily converted amid wild scenes on the sidelines.
From the restart Lions got the ball back and attacked the line for one last time, however, Bramley continued to tackle everything that moved and held firm. The referee appeared to blow for time, players shook hands, Bramley fans sang ‘You’ve just been Buffaloed’ Lions spectators all left, coaching staff removed all the flags …then the ref gave Buffaloes Chris Thompson a yellow then red card and said he would abandon the game and what did the respective coaches think!!!!!!!!!! The final twist in another 50+ minute half of rugby was that the game was restarted with a Lions play the ball under the Bramley posts and 5 more minutes to play! Chaotic does not adequately describe the final moments of the game where the Lions lost possession and Johnny Bradley was hit whilst prone on the ground – the game appropriately ending in a brawl! Phew!
Amazing scenes. The players made mistakes and did not help themselves, however that apart they were magnificent to a man. Daz Forster was named our man-of-the-match, but this was a gutsy team award for everyone involved. A marker has been put down. With games in hand West Hull may well as the remainder of the season unfolds, leapfrog above us to snatch second or even top spot, however they will not have a harder game and they know they may yet meet us in the play-offs, either at Hull again or at Stanningley. Buckle up for another topsy-turvy encounter!
Well played to all the team, coaching staff and the 18th man, the travelling supporters. Great squad of lads, let’s finish the job now.
West Hull Lions ‘A’ – 1) Matty Thompson, 2) Brandon Hepworth, 3) Sam Roe, 4) Kirk Ledger, 5) Jamie Hodgkinson, 6) Lewis Colrein, 7) George Russell, 8) Oscar Ellerington, 9) Steve Stamp, 10) Ash Shaw, 11) Stevie Taylor, 12) Craig Carter, 13) Joe Staples, Subs; 14) Lewis Jackson,15) Tom Watson, 16) Liam Robinson, 17) James Thames,
Tries – Ledger (4 & 8), Staples (23 & 36), Carter (65), Hogkinson (67)
Goals – Colrein (4/6)
Bramley Buffaloes – 1) Chris Thompson, 2) Jerome Malcolm, 3) Aaron Blake, 4) Alex Brier, 5) Liam Copland, 6) Omar Al-Rawi, 7) Ben Dean, 8) Gaz Hudson, 9) Phil Marson, 10) Dave Parker, 11) Ryan Campbell, 12) Daz Forster, 13) Johnny Bradley, Subs; 14) Sean Molyneux, 15) Phil Egan, 18) Rick Sumner, 17) Kenny Parker
Tries – Forster (2), Malcolm (13 & 25), Blake (21 & 75), Copland (40), Brier (73)
Goals – Forster (4/6), Copland (1/1)
Men of the Match –
West Hull Lions ‘A’ – Joe Staples
Bramley Buffaloes – Daz Forster
[standings league_id=1 template=extend logo=false]