WIZARDS EARN GRAND FINAL PLACE AFTER BUFFALOES SEE RED AND YELLOW
by Andy Coldrick
Bramley Buffaloes 16 (6) v Warrington Wizards 27 (19)
Players and spectators alike expecting a tense struggle between these two teams in an effort to reach the Grand Final will have been ultimately disappointed with the game they witnessed as referee Luke Fellows brandished cards seemingly without consistency to reduce Bramley to, on occasions, 9 players. Given the hefty penalty count and that from the 27th minutes the Buffaloes never had a full team on the pitch, it came as no surprise that the Wizards eased to a 16-27 victory.
Unfortunately the Wizards performance, who started very well and were steady throughout, will be overshadowed by the officials performance. There was no James Brown or Robin Wilkes in the Buffaloes 17 this week, however the team still looked strong with only Dan Caston, Alistair James, Nick Fontaine and Shaun Flynn missing. The Buffaloes were able to welcome back powerful second rower Paul Gledhill to the bench whilst Matthew Booth also made a welcome return in the centres. The Wizards meanwhile showed a number of positional changes from the team that played at Bramley just a few weeks ago. Chris Campbell moved to fullback and there were changes within the pack with Tom Wild and Simon McEvoy coming in to replace Matt Clarke and Matt Wilson. John Morley and Carl Leach were on the bench in place of Adam Knight and Dan Stubbs.
The Buffaloes started brightly with Tony Williams making a half break inside the opening minute, however both teams turned over possession in their opening sets. The Wizards settled the quicker of the two teams and a looping pass on 3 minutes found winger Graham Healey in actress of space enabling him to score easily in the corner. Steady play from the Wizards and a good kicking game allowed them to force a Buffaloes drop-out on 7 minutes. On the back of this and some poor goal-line defence Jono Smith crashed over for a try on 9 minutes when an offload caught the Buffaloes defence asleep. Smith converted and further damage was done on 17 minutes when Campbell went over wide out. Buffaloes coach Mark Butterill made multiple substitutions and this paid dividends as Gledhill and Elliker started to make metres going forward, Gledhill in particular looking dangerous. Paul Drake was prompting the Buffaloes attacks and it was his deft inside pass to Gledhill on 25 minutes that allowed Gledhill to charge through 2 would be tacklers to crash over under the posts for a try. Drake converted. Any thoughts of a Buffaloes fight-back were dashed in the remaining 15 minutes of the half as the officials appeared to penalise the Buffaloes after every tackle. Richard Hulme was shown a straight red on 27 minutes for a high tackle , Jono Smith converting a penalty shortly afterwards, 6-16. Another Smith penalty on 35 minutes was followed moments later by John Elliker being sent to the sin-bin for punching. Smith coolly slotted a field goal on 38 minutes and then Graham Harrison was also sent to the sin bin on the stroke of half-time. Bramley finished the half 6-19 down and 2-11 down on the penalty count and with only 10 players on the pitch.
The Buffaloes scrambled manfully at the start of the second half as they sought to keep the Wizards at bay, however when Richardson was shown a yellow card on 45 minutes, 9 man Buffaloes were never going to keep a slick Wizards team out. And so it proved on 46 minutes when following multiple off-loads Jono Smith scored again and landed the conversion. There appeared little way back for the Buffaloes at this point and it seemed only a question of how many the Wizards were going to score. As the Buffaloes got bodies back on them pitch they took the game to the Wizards and were rewarded for some good passing when Williams dived over from close range on 52 minutes. Once again any thoughts of a Buffaloes resurgence were quashed when Gledhill was dismissed for leading with the elbow on 55 minutes. Another Wizards penalty took them 17 points clear and the game entered the final quarter. Williams forced a drop–out on the hour and he led by example when he scored again on 65 minutes and then converted his own try. The Buffaloes threw the ball around as they attempted to score two converted tries, however they had top be weary all the time that the Wizards had the extra men on the pitch and could hit them on the counter-attack. David Yii proved a handful down the right, but excellent scrambling defence kept the Wizards at bay. Tempers spilled over and Buffaloes prop Richard Leese became the third dismissal of the afternoon when he shared his thoughts with the referee on 72 minutes. Ten-man Bramley were back to 9 players when John Elliker and Wizards Ian Stephenson were sin binned on 75 minutes. The game thank fully petered out with no further meaningful action.
Warrington Wizards started well and deserved their victory as they showed good control throughout the game. The Buffaloes started poorly and were playing catch-up from as early as the 17th minutes. However they showed great resilience to make a game of it despite the referee’s interventions. In the past there have been some very feisty games between these two well matched teams, however surprisingly this was one of the better games, although the numbers dismissed and sin-binned would suggest something to the contrary. Games of this magnitude need experienced officials and the RFL have a responsibility to appoint as such, sadly this was not the case today and the game suffered, however the best team won on the day. Report
Game star: Jono Smith was once again at the heart of all the good things that the Wizards did.
Game breaker: Jono Smith’s second try and conversion on 46 minutes put the Wizards into an unassailable lead given the lack of Buffaloes players on the pitch.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jimmy Waddington, 2. Andy McGann, 3. Matt Mulholland, 4. Matthew Booth, 5. John Richardson, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Danny Mitchell, 11. Simon Speight, 12. Craig Green, 13. Paul Drake, Subs (all used): 14. Richard Hulme, 15. Junior Brandford, 16. John Elliker, 17. Paul Gledhill.
Tries: Gledhill (25), Williams (55 & 65)
Goals: Drake 1/2 Williams 1/1
Warrington Wizards: 1. Chris Campbell, 2. Graham Healey, 3. Dave Yii, 4. Matt Taylor, 5. Darren Forshaw, 6. Alan Reddecliff, 7. Ian Stephenson, 8. Tom Wild, 9. Warren Ayres, 10. Simon McEvoy, 11. Shaun Gilmour, 12. Nick Owen, 13. Jono Smith, Subs (all used): 14. Craig Middlemore, 15. John Morley, 16. Dan Faulkner, 17. Carl Leach.
Tries: Healey (3), Smith (9 & 46), Campbell (17)
Goals: Ayres 0/1, Smith 4/5
Drop Goal: Smith
Final score: 16-27
Penalty Count: 7(2)-18(11)
Referee: Luke Fellows
Elliker (Buffaloes) 37 mins Punching
Harrison (Buffaloes) 39 mins Head high tackle
Richardson (Buffaloes) 45 mins Foul & abusive language
Elliker (Buffaloes) 75 mins Punching
Stephenson (Wizards) 75 mins Punching
Hulme (Buffaloes) 27 mins Head high tackle
Gledhill (Buffaloes) 55 mins Leading with elbow
Leese (Buffaloes) 72 mins Foul & abusive language
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Tony Williams
Warrington Wizards: Jono Smith
Next game: Sunday 19 September 2010
Competition: RLCN Elimination Semi-Final
Opponents: Huddersfield Underbank
Kick-off: 2.30 pm