LIONS PREY ON BUFFALOES COSTLY MISTAKES
by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes 10 (0) v Featherstone Lions 36 (18)
Featherstone Lions secured a valuable three points as they beat a determined Bramley Buffaloes outfit 10-36 at Stanningley on Friday night. Featherstone scored three tries in each half, the second burst of three tries coming late in the second half secured victory as the Buffaloes briefly threatened a fight-back in high tempo game.
Defeat at Hemel the previous week had left Bramley Buffaloes Head Coach Chris Gardner with a few more headaches, first there was how to shore up the worst defence in the league and secondly how to combat the new injuries the team had picked up. Duane Platt, Nathan Smith and Reece Spurr were all absent through injury which was a blow as all three had been performing well. Chris Gardner selected himself to start his first game of the season in the front row in an effort to stiffen the Buffaloes defence and lead from the front. Tom Langton and Steve Mead moved from the back line to second row and loose forward respectively; whilst there was a welcome return to the team for Craig Green and Nick Fontaine. Phil Brain made his debut in the centres.
The Featherstone team looked strong on paper and showed only a number of positional changes from the team that lost at Kippax the previous week.
The first half was a surprisingly tight affair for long periods with both teams playing at a very fast pace. The Buffaloes had conceded early tries in every game so far, however the gradual improvement in the team was evident for all to see as Lions attacked the Buffaloes line early on only to be denied by some excellent scrambling defence. As early as the second minute the Lions forced a drop out and on the back of two penalties went over in the right hand corner only to be called back for a forward pass. The Buffaloes weathered the storm and on their first attack forced the Lions to drop out following an astute kick from Barrett. The Lions dominated possession; however a combination of good tackling and some poor ball handling stopped them posting any points. Frankland and Eadie were running the game for the Lions and only a smart Flynn tackle denied Sam Wilson after a great break. On twenty two minutes the Lions eventually got over the whitewash and Wilson was not to be denied this time after he raced 40m down field to score under the posts, Jackson converted the first of six perfect conversions. Ten minutes later and the Lions had doubled their lead after some shocking Buffaloes attempts at tackling saw him race over 70m to score. This was a very poor try for the Buffaloes to concede after such a good opening 30 minutes. The Buffaloes frustration boiled over on the stroke of half time after Eadie had sliced through the line to score, Flynn was sent to the sin-bin for dissent. After a very good opening 20 minutes and generally a pretty even first half, the Buffaloes trailed 0-18 to the Lions who had taken their chances and made the Buffaloes pay for switching off at key times.
The Buffaloes opened the brighter of the two teams in the second half and provided more of an attacking threat. This paid dividends on 50 minutes after the Lions had conceded several cheap penalties and the Buffaloes had made good progress down field. The ball was swept to the right and Phil Brain made 20m holding off two tacklers to flip the ball neatly inside to Nick Fontaine who evaded two more tacklers to score a quality try. Barrett converted. Six minutes later and Ross Peel crashed over from dummy half to reduce the Lions lead to eight points at 10-18. Sensing their opportunity the Buffaloes continued to look impressive in both attack and defence and the game was in the balance for a short period of time. On 60 minutes a fight broke out after Gardner had taken a shot to the head, Steve Mead and Scott Wilson were both sent for 10 minutes cooling off time. This disruption in play proved pivotal as the Buffaloes lost their rhythm and the Lions regained theirs. Good ball handling put Ryan Mallinder into space as he finished well on 66 minutes as the Buffaloes defence were caught short out wide. Buffaloes man-of-the-match Hafeez Yesufu pulled off several outstanding tackles throughout the game; non more so than when Frankland looked a certain scorer on 68 minutes only for Yesufu to hold him up in a one-on-one tackle over the line. Unfortunately from the restart a poor Buffaloes pass on their own 20m line gifted possession back to the Lions who through Frankland scored a well taken try. On 72 minutes Lee Land completed the scoring as he went over unopposed after another incisive Lions move.
Featherstone produced a solid performance and deserved their victory as they posed more problems in attack than the Buffaloes.
The Buffaloes however were vastly improved on the previous week and the signs are that the team is starting to gel. Unfortunately silly mistakes and a lack of concentration (familiar themes) at key times cost them tries. Likewise poor discipline is not helping either as the opposition are gifted easy metres. However the Buffaloes did carry more threat in attack and looked more resolute in defence than they have in recent weeks; which is encouraging.
Game star: Danny Glassell of the Lions scored a superb solo try and had a fine all round game, constantly proving a handful for the Buffaloes defence
Game breaker: A player from each team was sin-binned on 60 minutes and that seemed to unsettle the Buffaloes more than the Lions. Shortly afterwards on the back of some cheap penalties the Lions scored and made the game safe
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Shaun Flynn, 2. Nick Fontaine, 3. Phil Brain, 4. Sean Storie, 5. Craig Green, 6. Louie Barrett, 7. Steve Suddards, 8. Hafeez Yesufu, 9. Ross Peel, 10. Chris Gardner, 11. Ash Taylor, 12. Tom Langton, 13. Steve Mead, Subs: (all used) 14. Graham Harrison, 15. Graham Nash, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Matthew Brook.
Tries: Fontaine (50), Peel (56)
Goals: Barrett (1/2)
Featherstone Lions: 1. Ian Jackson, 2. Sam Wilson, 3. Danny Glassell, 4. Lee Land, 5. Adam Hepworth, 6. Richard Frankland, 7. Kevin Eadie, 8. Craig Barker, 9. Dean Gamble, 10. Tom Burns, 11. Scott Wilson, 12. Ryan Mallinder, 13. Scott Glassell, Subs; (all used) 14. Ben Smith, 15. Mark Kear, 16. Jack Candlin, 17. Kyle Littlewood.
Tries: Wilson (22), Glassell D (32), Eadie (39), Mallinder (66), Frankland (69), Land (72)
Goals: Jackson 6 (6/6)
Final score: 10-36
Referee: Chris Dean
Penalty Count: 13(3) – 12(9)
Sin binned: Flynn (Buffaloes), 39 mins – Dissent
Mead (Buffaloes), 60 mins – Fighting
Wilson (Lions), 60 mins –High tackle
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Hafeez Yesufu
Featherstone Lions: Danny Glassell