by Andy Coldrick 

Bramley Buffaloes 18 (18) v Nottingham Outlaws 10 (0)

Bramley Buffaloes made it 4 wins out 4 as they beat Nottingham Outlaws by 18-10 on Sunday at Stanningley and so joined Featherstone Lions at the top of the RLCN table. Nottingham Outlaws though showed plenty of spirit and were well deserving of their bonus point in a game that was dominated throughout by tough defence from both teams.

Paul Drake returned to the Buffaloes team after serving his one match suspension whilst Danny Mitchell started at prop after last playing for the team in 2007. The team was re-shuffled from that that won the previous week at Dewsbury, namely John Elliker returned to the starting line-up whilst Jimmy Waddington moved to fullback and Shaun Flynn dropped to the bench. Richard Leese, Dave Parker and Graham Harrison made up a strong looking Buffaloes bench. Nottingham were without influential play-maker Paul Calland and in form winger Melbourne Weir was also missing. Simon Morton was able to start at hooker after picking up an injury last week.

Nottingham started positively and were soon examining the Buffaloes defence;, however the pressure was released when a huge Williams bomb on 5 minutes was touched by fullback Walmsley and the Outlaws were forced to drop-out from under their own posts. John Richardson had a try ruled out on 8 minutes, bundled into touch by excellent Outlaws covering defence. Nottingham then attacked the Bramley line and had successive back-to-back sets inside the Buffaloes 10m zone, this came to nothing as possession was cheaply turned over. On 11 minutes Richard Hulme who has been in impressive form so far this season collected a misplaced pass on the halfway and made good metres. From a short Drake pass he then wrestled out of 3 would be Outlaws tacklers to plunge over under the posts, Williams added the conversion. The lead was doubled three minutes later when Williams took an inside pass again from Drake and beat the covering defence to score. Adam Millward worked tirelessly throughout the game for the Outlaws and it was he on 16 minutes who almost got the Outlaws on the scoreboard. He collected Elliker’s lost ball and charged up-field only for Jimmy Waddington to haul him down 30m from the line. Tough Buffaloes defence continued to deny the probing Outlaws attack and that looked to have paid huge dividends on 20 minutes when after soaking up more pressure the Buffaloes broke and a delicate Drake chip was superbly collected by Williams, who then somehow held off the scrambling covering defence to score by the posts. Williams converted and at 18-0 it looked a question of how many Bramley may score. Nottingham dug in and only last ditch top tackles by Elliker and Brandford stopped the Outlaws posting tries before half-time. A Richard Hulme kick through brought a second drop-out but that came to nothing. The half ended with both defences on top, stifling the attacking aspects of both teams. At the break Bramley would have been pleased with their defence but know that 2 or 6 trying scoring opportunities were missed.

Chris McNamara was in the action early in the second half, collecting a high ball under pressure. On 43 minutes Bramley almost extended their lead as Williams charged down an attacking kick on half way but failed to regather the bouncing ball cleanly with the try line at his mercy. That was the last seen of the Buffaloes as an attacking threat for some time as Nottingham dominated both possession and field position. Walsh scored a try on 44 minutes after a kick over the Buffaloes defence bounced nicely for him and allowed him a 40m arcing run to the posts, Walmsley converted. John Richardson beat two men on the outside before Millward bundled him into touch as he approached the line on 47 minutes. The Outlaws then applied more pressure to the Buffaloes who were struggling to get out of their own half, Hazeldine had a tremendous run which almost produced a try and George Strachan and Simon Morton were getting through a ton of work as they worked another opening. That opening eventually came on 55 minutes. On the last tackle,5m from the Buffaloes line the opportunity appeared to have been lost for the Outlaws but great off-loading, quick hands and a perfectly weighted kick to the right hand corner saw Hazeldine open the game right up when he scored. Crucially, Walmsley missed the conversion and the Buffaloes led 18-10. For the next 10 minutes the Outlaws continued to take the game to the Buffaloes but resolute defence kept them out. The re-introduction of Danny Mitchell and John Elliker on 65 minutes stiffened the Bramley defence and more importantly allowed them to take the game to the Outlaws and put pressure on their defence. Jon Nicholls left the field injured for the Buffaloes. Mitchell and Harrison both were held up on the line and an Elliker off-load almost put Brandford over. However there were no further points and the game finished 18-10 to the Buffaloes.

Nottingham can take great heart from this performance and a return to last season’s consistent form can only be a whisker away with further performances like this. Bramley Buffaloes meanwhile will be pleased with their defence which looks as solid as ever, however coach Mark Butterill knows there is more to come from his team as an attacking unit.

Game star: Tony Williams scored 2 excellent tries and Simon Morton and George Strachan worked tirelessly for the Outlaws, however for me Danny Mitchell was outstanding. Hardly missed a tackle and added real punch to the attack. A great effort on his return to the team.

Game breaker:
 Re-introduction of Danny Mitchell and John Elliker from the bench on 65 minutes tightened up the Buffaloes defence and provided them with a greater attacking threat.

Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jimmy Waddington, 2. John Richardson, 3. Matt Mullholland, 4. Dan Caston, 5. Craig Green, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Danny Mitchell, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Junior Brandford, 11. John Elliker, 12. Simon Speight, 13. Paul Drake, Subs: 14. Graham Harrison, 15. Richard Leese, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Shaun Flynn.

Tries: Williams (14 & 20), Hulme (11)
Goals: Williams 3/3

Nottingham Outlaws: 1. Nathan Walmsley, 2. Dom Walsh, 3. Tom Cliffe, 4. Simon Chilcott, 5. Chris McNamara, 6. Oliver Crick, 7. James Lewis, 8. Adam Millward, 9. Simon Morton, 10. Dan Reeds, 11. Eddie Shaw, 12. Alex Hazeldine, 13. Matt Abbott, Subs: 14. Ali Waring, 15. Nick Van Buren, 16. George Strachan, 17. James Sadler.

Tries: Walsh (44), Hazeldine (55)
Goals: Walmsley 1/2

Half-time: 18-0
Final score: 18-10

Penalty Count: 8(3) – 10(5)

Referee: Shane Daniel

Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Junior Brandford
Nottingham Outlaws: Simon Morton

Next game: Friday 21 May 2010
Competition: RLCN
Opponents: Kippax Knightss
Venue: Home
Kick-off: 8.00 pm