by Andy & Devon Johnson
After winning the Jack Briggs Memorial Trophy in monsoon conditions at Hanging Heaton last week, the players were in a buoyant mood in the perfect conditions for their home semi-final clash with Hunslet Club Parkside.
With only a minute on the clock, the Buffaloes showed their intentions with Keiran Foster slicing through a surprised looking Hunslet defence for the first try. Aaron Henry adding the conversion. 6-0
The try of the season unfolded after 8 mins following a rare foray into Buffaloes territory Hunslet kicked through, and the ball landed behind the Buffaloes try line. Aiden Baranyi gathered it in and with strength and quick feet he beat the 3 Hunslet players looking to trap him behind his line before breaking away downfield. The Buffaloes continued to charge downfield with the ball being fed to Nathan Hammond who took it to the 20-metre line when he calmly met the despairing challenge of the Hunslet cover before passing to Rob Brown. Rob raced away and finished the 105 metre move with a try in the corner. Henry just wide with the conversion 8-0.
With 19 mins gone Hunslet looked somewhat shell-shocked but on the back of a wayward Buffaloes pass across field the ball was hacked towards the line and although the ball appeared to go dead a Hunslet hand was placed on the ball just as it rolled to a stop. The referee was fully 40 metres away, but he went up to inspect a blade of grass by the dead ball line and gave a try. Hunslet converted 8-6.
From the restart, Rob Brown took a ‘trick’ Henry kick off to regain the ball, but the move broke down. Play continued end to end but Hunslet struggled to hold the rampaging Buffaloes forwards resulting in several of their players coming off injured. However benefiting from a series of ‘cheap’ penalties they dragged themselves back into the game following a cross-field kick, well caught by the wingman to score in the corner on 35 mins. The conversion sailed wide 14-10.
As Hunslet’s coaching staff encouraged their charges to hold on until halftime (hoping I suspect to allow time to tend to their injuries) Buffaloes Curtis Sidebottom had other ideas. Following superb inter-passing across the field, he was simply too hot to handle piercing through a tiring Hunslet defence on 38 mins. Aaron Henry adding the conversion, 18-10 as the Half time whistle sounded.
The second half commenced just as the first finished with Curtis again beating several Hunslet tacklers close to the line. 47 mins gone 22-10, Henry missed the conversion.
Hunslet looked deflated at this point and were carrying several players who were either injured or simply tired after enduring the constant pressure of the Buffaloes forwards rampaging into them. On 62 mins strong running prop Tom Barraclough capped an excellent performance bursting through the Hunslet defence from 5 metres to score at the side of the posts. Henry converted 28-10.
Hunslet’s weary troops then playing for pride had a good spell with the ball helped by the Buffaloes over imaginative play, but by now chasing the game their long passes or even some short ones were being spilt.
The final ten mins belonged completely to Henry who was looking remarkable fresh as he dominated the game teasing Hunslet with a series of strong, elusive carries, sapping their last reserves as he slipped out of tackle after tackle.
The final try was scored by who else but the charismatic Henry who after missing a penalty on 77 mins gathered the resulting dropout and mesmerised the Hunslet defence by faking to drop a goal before ghosting through untouched to score. Henry stepped up to convert his own try.
34-10 at Fulltime.
The coaching team of Steve and Simon were justifiably beaming at the final whistle. All season long they have read the game well and issued excellent directions (not always followed!). Today when it really mattered they reaped their rewards – as the A team would say ‘’I love it when a plan comes together.’’
Next week we return to The Millponds Wakefield Road home of Featherstone Lions for the Grand Final against Hull Wyke, you’ve just got to be there – Buffaluvit!
Bramley Buffaloes: 1) Aaron Henry, 2) Kieran Forster-Mathews, 10) Nathan Hammond, 4) Tom While, 5) Rob Brown, 19) Connor McGill, 15) Brad Wilson, 8) Ben Maynard-Warrincy, 9) Cameron McLachlan, 3) Charlie McMurray, 11) Tom Langton, 12) Curtis Sidebottom, 13) Aiden Baranyi, Subs 16) Tom Barraclough,19) Martin Slack 7) Ben Blanchard.
Tries: Keiron Foster-Mathews (1) Rob Brown (8), Cameron McLachlan (29), Curtis Sidebottom (38, 47), Tom Barraclough (62), Aaron Henry (77 ),
Goals: Aaron Henry (29, 62, 77) (3 from 8)
Hunslet Club Parkside: 1) Luke Medley, 2) Jake Southern, 10) Ricky Flinn, 4) Jake Corney, 5 Ellis Robinson, 6) Micky Nuttall, 7) Conner Squires, 8 Craig West, 14) Chris Boyle, 3) Ben Walker, 11) Amraz Hamed, 12) Tom Boardman, 13) Lee Kelley Subs all used 9) Scott Armitage, 16) Jamie Broadhead, 19) William Bream, 7) Dean Bowles
Tries M Nutall (19) and J Southern (35),
Goal L Medley 19 (1 from 2)