by Andy Coldrick

Milford Marlins ‘A’ 18 (6) v Bramley Buffaloes 26 (10)

Not for the first time this season (or likely the last), Bramley Buffaloes found themselves without a league game as no opposition was available, smart work by the Buffaloes committee ensured that we did not have another blank weekend as we visited near neighbours Milford Marlins and took on their ‘A’ at Kirkstall.

Much like the previous weeks friendly against Mancunians RL, this proved to be a very worthwhile exercise as both teams fought out a good game, despite (again!) the referee seemingly intent on spoiling the game with some bizarre and downright frustrating decisions. This stopped the game from flowing, and somehow the game just about failed to boil over as tempers became frayed. Whilst we all appreciate the difficult jobs refs have and that there would be no game without them, for their performance to continually be the talking point of the game cannot be good for the game. Despite my somewhat biassed view, referees seem intent on talking to Bramley players and using their cards for 15 minutes sin bins while opposition players receive not so much as talking to for repeat offences ………go figure

Steve Langton had the luxury of naming five subs for this game and it was the Buffaloes who kicked off on a fine sunny afternoon playing towards the Rhinos training facilities.

The early exchanges between both teams were even as both teams sought to put their stamp on the game. A good, high Connor McGill Crossfield kick was well taken by the Marlins defence on their own line under pressure from Bramley tacklers. This looked for all money like a goal line drop out until the referee ruled a Buffaloes infringement.

Milford came down the pitch courtesy of their big pack and only a superb one-on-one tackle by Romeo on his line stopped an early Marlins score. The early pressure was being applied by the Marlins, and they dominated field position; however, some strong Buffaloes defence, especially down the middle, saw all the Marlins attacks snuffed out. On 14 minutes good handling down the Buffaloes left saw them create their first clear scoring opportunity, Richard Fenty break into space, but with a 3-1 overlap his pass out was not good and only troubled the Buffaloes supporters. Shortly afterwards Romeo looked to have scored after a typical 20m break and good footwork, only to have it chalked off for a knock-on whilst scoring.

Joe Mathers, who gets better with every game, diffused a high bomb on his own line. From the resultant set of six, strong Buffaloes defence drove Milford back and the ball was turned over deep in Milford’s half. From the scrum, McGill chipped a perfect diagonal kick behind the Marlins defence, on que Romeo chased the ball down, beating a hesitant defence to the ball 10m and his arcing run took him round to score under the posts. Perfect execution to a planned play. Connor added the conversion.

Bramley then started to dominate play prompted by some excellent McGill kicks, some strong running by all the players and Romeo’s elusive runs. Unfortunately, Bramley could not turn their dominance into further points and somewhat against the run of play Aaron Jones-Bishop scythed through some hesitant defence on 34 minutes to draw Milford level with a converted try. This followed a series of back-to-back penalties awarded to Milford, some unexplainable referring decisions and about 20 consecutive tackles inside the 20m zone, the try had a sense of inevitability about it. Steve Langton urged his team for a response before half-time and Cameron McLachlan duly obliged on 39 minutes with his third try of the season right in the left-hand corner, scored from close range. There was no conversion, 6-10 to the Buffaloes at halftime.

The second half started in controversial fashion. On 44 minutes Bramley were awarded a penalty 20m out from the Milford line, on the Buffaloes right-hand flank. Romeo, who was having an increasing influence on the Buffaloes play, took a quick tap with the Milford defence and referee seemingly in position. He tapped to himself and went straight through 2 tackles before running into a very static referee. It is unclear what happened, but the referee immediately sent Romeo to the sin bin and awarded Milford a penalty……The game was in grave danger of boiling over at this point. Joe Mathers made a splendid surging 30m run before being hauled down 30m from the Milford line but close to touch, but clearly not in touch. Milford appealed vociferously that Joe was in touch, and the referee who was yards away awarded them a scrum! This was followed by a series of very aggressive, intimidating runs by the Milford’s forwards, who for all their size and bluster made little impact but there was now a lot of niggle in the game. Tom White produced a wonderful man and ball tackle to deny Milford’s right winger who seemed to almost stop as Tom monstered him in the tackle!

With Romeo still in the sin bin, Jack Young produced a powerful surging run from close range to take three would be tacklers with him to score on 50 minutes. Connor added a Drake like conversion from touch, 6-16. Dave Jennings in an unusual role as sub, broke several tackles to stride some 20m towards the line before losing the ball. Still down to 12 men and with the sin –binning entering the 12th minute Milford grabbed a try after some hesitant sliding defence failed to make a tackle, 12-16 after 56 minutes.

Romeo eventually returned, but this was now with Milford dominating field position and possession. Despite all the ball and yet more penalties, some to be fair were justified as Bramley were also guilty of some poor tackles and general ill-discipline. During this period Tom White and Alex Coop both made key saves behind their own line but probably the tackle of the game came from Tom Langton on 63 minutes.
Milford were close to the Buffaloes line, inside the 10m zone and moving the ball from left to right, the ball went quickly to the winger who looked certain to score – in fact, the Milford crowd were just about to celebrate a try before Tom hit the winger in the ribs and knocked him off his feet and into touch by the corner flag, sweet!

On such plays games change. And so it was as moments later after more quick hands and quality off-loading Bramley found themselves 30m from the Milford line but close to the right-hand touchline. Romeo stepped into dummy half, collected the play-the-ball, went down the wing leaving two markers helpless, sidestepped the full back and sprinted over in the corner – pure Romeo!! Connor added another stunning conversion. On 74 minutes Romeo completed his fourth hat-trick of the season (and his 16th try in 5 games) to seal the game at 12-26. Milford added a consolation try on the stroke of full-time to give them some respectability with a final score of 18-26 (and not 18-24 as recorded on the Yorkshire Men’s League website!!).

This was another good workout for the team, albeit only as a friendly. The defence looked particularly sharp, whilst the attack looked threatening. On the downside, despite some indifferent referring, we need to seriously improve our discipline, especially on the 5th and 6th tackles as well as curbing our dissent and high shots. Likewise, our returns from the kickoff following a score by ourselves needs to be more secure; we must aim to complete that first set of 6 from the re-start. Nonetheless, these are all fixable, and I am sure Steve, his team and the players will aim to fix these up before Greetland on Saturday and Odsal Sedbergh away on 6 August.

Finally, I believe Romeo may be unavailable for some time due to an impending operation, if so, get well soon mate, thank you for all your efforts, some special moments, and we all hope you make a swift and successfully recovery and that we see you back in the Black and Amber soon!

Next week, we should be at home to Greetland All Rounders, 2.30pm kick-off. See you all there.

Bramley Buffaloes – 1) Aaron Henry, 2) Joe Mathers, 3) Jack Young, 4) Tom White, 5) Danny Baranyi, 6) Connor McGill, 7) Brad Wilson, 8) Charlie McMurray, 9) Cameron McLachlan, 10) Richard Fenty, 11) Aiden Baranyi, 12) Tom Langton, 13) Sam Wilson, Subs; 14) Brook Flynn, 15) Al Harker, 18) Alex Coop, 17) Dave Jennings, 18) Garry Butterfield (unused sub)
Tries – Henry (18, 67 & 76), McLachlan (39), Young (50),
Goals – McGill (3/5)