BUFFALOES HUNT DOWN BEARS
by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes recorded their third win of the season with a determined 26-16 victory over Coventry Bears at Stanningley on Sunday. Following their win the previous week at Bristol confidence was high in the Buffaloes camp as they entertained mid table Coventry, looking to post back-to-back wins for the first time since July/August 2010.
As it turned out the Buffaloes turned in a very good first 40 minutes followed by an unspectacular, but solid defensive display in the second 40 minutes to record a very good win. Before the game I would have expected Coventry to target this game as very winnable, however they will have good cause to reflect that their discipline and ball retention cost them dear in this game, along with a couple of unfortunate injuries.
Bramley Buffaloes welcomed back Benoit Rogers for his first game of the season and Omar Al Rawi at full back made his debut. In essence, the team retained a familiar look to that that won at Bristol which is good news in terms of continuity.
On the back of two early penalties the Buffaloes showed crisp passing that put centre Aaron Blake into space and he strode through a gap from 15m out to open the scoring on 3 minutes. A high bomb was well collected and Benny Rogers made good progress before his pass was dropped with the line open on 5 minutes. That let-off seemed to focus the Bears as they responded with a determined run from ex-Buffaloe Tom Tsang who made good ground after collecting a chip through. Silly penalties undermined the Bears play as they continually gave up good position and incurred the displeasure of the referee. Nevertheless Coventry enjoyed a period of good possession and field position and this paid dividends for them when centre Ross Bayston scored on 16 minutes to level the scores. Bramley responded by forcing a drop out and then Benny again made two excellent carries in quick succession to the line before hooker Pitts dived over from dummy half for a well taken try, his second in successive matches. Coventry’s re-start went out on the full and Bramley immediately went on the offensive. After an absence of 4 weeks Anthony Lindsey made a very welcome return to the team, starting today at loose forward, he was a dominating presence throughout this game and it was he who carved up the Bears defence on 20 minutes before releasing Tom Langton to score on 26 minutes in the corner. Sid Lindsay added a superb touchline conversion in a swirling wind. Lindsey capped a profitable period of play for the Buffaloes when he stepped out of at least 4 or 5 would be tackles to score under the posts on 30 minutes, 20-4. As t6he half drew to a close Mark White scored a crucial try for the Bears on the stroke of half-time after some excellent close inter passing by the Bears left the Buffaloes defence flat footed. If the Bears could address a 7-3 penalty count deficit then they felt they could still take something from the game, however they needed a quicker start and had to control the ball better.
In contrast to the first 40 minutes, the second half was an attritional affair with both teams guilty of ill discipline, poor ball retention and some poor decision making. This led to a disjointed half with neither team able to exercise any control over the other. Coventry re-gathered the ball from the kick-off and then spent the next 10 minutes camped inside the Buffaloes 30m zone. Despite sustained pressure the Buffaloes defence held firm. Elliot Hirst was sin-binned for Coventry on 46 minutes for use of knees in the tackle; however this advantage was squandered by the Buffaloes as they failed to find touch with a penalty and lost possession early. The Buffaloes were playing as though they were the team behind with the clock ticking down. Therefore it came as a bit of a surprise that with their first venture into Coventry territory Bramley scored a wonderful try. Anthony Lindsey again bemused the Bears defence before releasing flyng winger Andrew Staniland who scorched over in the right hand corner. Simon Lindsay added another great conversion. Despite a 16 point cushion the game was far from won. The Bears got back into the game almost immediately through lively hooker Luke Srama who collected a grubber to the in-goal and pounced to score. Coleman tagged on the conversion to bring the score to 26-16. James Woods received 10 minutes in the sin bin for dissent at the same time.
Down a man and going into the last final 20 minutes the game was delicately poised. Coventry sensed their chance but never made any capital of their advantage as they conceded two quick penalties and allowed the Buffaloes to move downfield. With the game in the balance both defences were on top and when Woods returned the Buffaloes sensed that the game was theirs. Anthony Lindsay showed plenty of craft and looked the most likely player on either team to create a scoring opportunity, however as it turned out there was no further addition to the scoring.
On reflection this was another positive step forward for the Buffaloes. Defensively, despite a couple of lapses, the team once again showed excellent commitment in defence, good organisation and plenty of scrambling when required. Omar Al Rawi was excellent at full back, very composed and he showed a good turn of speed in broken play. Offensively, when the team clicked they looked really good. We do need to control the ball better, ensure we complete our sets and make the opposition come off their own line rather than turning over cheap possession. Anthony Lindsey was central to most of our best creative moments and he looked a threat all the time. Tom Langton moved back into the centres and he looked strong as he made numerous drives, another good game. Ben Pitts seems to have settled well a hooker and Danny O’Connor tackled anything that moved (again). Finally, all the players did well. Too many to mention individually, hopefully we can carry this on to Kippax and cement our place in the top 6.
Game star: Anthony Lindsey had an outstanding all round game. The Bears never dealt with him at all at any time during the game and paid the price.
Game breaker: The Buffaloes defence from 60 minutes onwards when they stopped the Bears scoring during a period when they were without influential front rower James Woods. Another Bears score would have reduced the deficit to a single score, however excellent defence snuffed out the Bears attack.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Omar Al Rawi, 2. Andrew Staniland, 3. Aaron Blake, 4. Tom Langton, 5. Simon Lindsay, 6. Chris Boyce, 7. Steve Suddards, 8. James Woods, 9. Ben Pitts, 10. Graham Nash, 11. Benoit Rogers, 12. Danny O’Connor, 13. Anthony Lindsey, Subs: (all used) 14. Craig Lovelock, 15. Anthony Mills, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Steve Gill.
Tries: Blake (3), Pitts (20), Langton (26), Lindsey (30), Staniland (56)
Goals: Lindsay (3/5)
Coventry Bears: 1. Tom Tsang, 2. Tawada Chipadze, 3. Ross Bayston, 4. Tim Leishman, 5. Callum Lines, 6. Stephen Coleman, 7. Alex Brown, 8. Ryan Jenkins, 9. Luke Srama, 10. Elliot Hirst, 11. Dave O’Connor, 12. Harry Kaufman, 13. Ben Vivian, Subs; (all used) 14. Tom Watts, 15. Mark W2hite, 16. George Thompson, 17. Sam Pace.
Tries: Bayston (16), White (36), Srama (60)
Penalty Count: 12 (7)- 8 (3)
Sin Binned: Hirst (Bears) 46 mins; Woods (Buffaloes) 60 mins
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Anthony Lindsey
Coventry Bears:Luke Srama