You would have been hard pressed to find a spectator present before the game who would have bet on a 56-4 final score line in a Buffaloes vs. Wizards match, especially as Bramley were down to their final 17 available players. However, a dominant performance, definitely their best of the season, saw the Buffaloes dismantle a very disappointing Wizards team; unfortunately Head Coach Mark Butterill was not present to witness the performance.
With injuries, suspensions and player unavailability rife, assistant coach Jon Nicholls found the squad stretched to the limit. Nathan Anderson made a welcome return after his only previous appearance of the season was at Warrington at the start of the season. Daniel Lavery and Antony Ward both also made welcome returns after recovering from injuries. Warrington had a strong team out following their last gasp victory over Featherstone the previous week.
As in previous weeks the Buffaloes started strongly with the returning Dan Caston to the fore with some good early runs. Paul Drake tested the Wizards left side defence early on with a couple of probing kicks; however both Matt Wilson and Adam Gorman proved up to the challenge. Referee Chris Dean penalised Bramley on four successive occasions as the Wizards started to probe the Buffaloes defence, however a strong burst downfield by Bramley full-back Andy McGann turned defence into attack and took him to within 10m of the Wizards line. Paul Drake went close from the next play-the-ball before Chris Gardner somehow crashed over from close range. Paul Drake was injured in the build up and took no further part in the game, so Matthew Booth converted the try on 10 minutes. Bramley then dominated field position and possession, not allowing the Wizards to get any flow to their game. This paid more dividends on 18 minutes when inspirational captain Danny O’Connor scored after more good approach work by Dan Caston, Booth converted again From the re-start there were excellent drives from Simon Speight, who had an quality game throughout, Gardner and O’Connor. Jon Nicholls lofted a high kick to the Wizards left and Nick Fontaine out jumped Gorman to collect the ball and score behind the posts. On 24 minutes Wizards winger Scott Lyon suffered a leg injury and was led from the field, on the re-start Wizards passed the ball along the line unfortunately for them there was one pass too many and Jim Shuttleworth read the play and gleefully made the interception and ran 30m unopposed to score under the posts. Wizards were doing a mountain of tackling and were unable to make any progress at all into the Bramley half. At no point in the first 40 minutes did they threaten the Buffaloes line. Bramley posted 2 further try’s before half-time, on 32 minutes a deft Nicholls kick into the in-goal area saw the lightening quick Nick Fontaine notch his second try, then 4 minutes later Andy McGann ghosted into the line for an easy score. Booth converted all the tries. At half-time it was 36-0 and Bramley had put in as dominant a first half performance as you could wish to see.
The second half started with Chris Gardner being held up over the Wizards line even though it looked like he had grounded the ball. Not to be denied, another Buffaloes attack 2 minutes later saw Andy McGann take the ball at pace towards the Wizards line before flipping a pass out to Shaun Flynn who registered his 12th try of the season. On 47 minutes the game changed as Wizards players took exception to one of their players being bundled into touch. A fight broke out involving most of the players, resulting in Anderson and Fontaine of Bramley being dismissed as well as Davidson and Jarvis of the Wizards, all for punching. As a spectacle the game lost its appeal as the structure and flow of the game fell away. When the game did re-start after the melee, Andy McGann crossed for his second try. Danny O’Connor made a great chase back to stop a Wizards break on 55 minutes, which was their first meaningful attack of the game. Alan Kilshaw was also sin binned for dissent. With both teams reduced in numbers gaps appeared all over the pitch. Finally after managing to gain some field position Adam Gorman crossed in the corner for what tuned out to be a consolation try for the Wizards on 59 minutes. Andy McGann was sin-binned for a professional foul on 61 minutes as the teams then played 10-a-side. Matt Clarke made an excellent break on 66 minutes; but with the line open he passed to the supporting Billy Sheen who under no pressure spilled the pass, this probably summed up Warrington’s afternoon! Both teams were guilty of not completing their sets and losing possession cheaply as the quality of rugby on show dropped. Bramley re-asserted their hold on the game with McGann forcing a drop out on his return to the field. Speight drove the ball in with aggression, well supported by Antony Ward, and as a result of steady handling, Dan Caston crossed for a well deserved try on 72 minutes. Further composed play followed and Speight showed excellent speed to send Nicholls over for an easy try on the final whistle, Chris Gardner converted.
Bramley turned in an excellent display particularly for the first 47 minutes before dismissals upset the game. Going back to basics they played excellent rugby and denied Warrington time and space. Warrington by all accounts had a number of players missing but they will have been disappointed with their effort all the same.
Game star: Jon Nicholls turned in another outstanding all round display. Strong in defence, inventive in attack, he put in a number of telling kicks in general play so it was fitting he should score the final try.
Game breaker: After another positive excellent start by the Buffaloes, Warrington were still within touching distance, however Jim Shuttleworth’s well taken interception try on 25 minutes was a real blow for the Wizards.
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Andy McGann, 2. Nick Fontaine, 3.Matthew Booth , 4. Dan Caston, 5. Shaun Flynn, 6. Paul Drake, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Chris Gardner, 9. Graham Harrison 10. Alex White, 11. Jim Shuttleworth, 12. Simon Speight, 13. Danny O’Connor, Subs (all used) 14. Nathan Anderson, 15. Antony Ward, 16. Richard Leese, 17. Daniel Lavery
Try’s: Fontaine (20 & 32), McGann (36 & 49), Gardner (10), O’Connor (18)
Shuttleworth (25), Flynn (43), Caston (71), Nicholls (79)
Goals: Booth 7/9, Gardner 1/1
Warrington Wizards: 1. Liam Duffy, 2. Scott Lyon, 3. Troy Alison, 4. Matt Wilson, 5. Adam Gorman, 6. Alan Kilshaw, 7. Warren Ayres, 8. Gareth Simpson, 9. Billy Sheen, 10. Matt Clarke, 11. Scott Davidson, 12. Darren Forshaw, 13. Alan Reddecliff, Subs (all used) 14. Hayden James, 15. Ryan Jarvis, 16. Scott Cullen, 17. Gareth Barron.
Try’s: Gorman (59)
Goals: Ayres 0/1
Sin-Binned: McGann (Buffaloes) – Professional foul (61 mins), Kilshaw (Wizards) – Dissent (50 mins)
Dismissed: Anderson & Fontaine (Both Buffaloes) – Punching (47 mins), Davidson & Jarvis (Both Wizards) – Punching (47 Mins)
Final score: 56-4
Referee: Chris Dean
Man of the Match:
Bramley Buffaloes: Jon Nicholls
Warrington Wizards: Matt Clarke
Next game: Thursday 25 June 2009
Opponents: Gateshead Storm
Kick-off: 8.00 pm
More Information: http://www.bramley-rlfc.co.uk/