BUFFALOES MAINTAIN SOLID AWAY FORM AT DEWSBURY
by Andy Coldrick
Dewsbury Celtic 14 (10) v Bramley Buffaloes 26 (12)
Bramley Buffaloes maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a solid, if unspectacular third successive away victory, winning 14-26 at local rivals Dewsbury Celtic on Saturday. Tough scrambling defence was the foundation for this victory as Dewsbury proved difficult opponents on their own ground.
Once again coach Mark Butterill had to contend with player unavailability through suspension, injuries or other commitments. This meant a welcome return to the bench for Chris Gardner, celebrating his 10th season with the club. Graham Harrison returned at hooker with Richard Hulme moving into the second row to cover for John Elliker. Shaun Flynn was at full-back to replace Nick Fontaine, whilst Matt Mullholland returned at centre after missing the win at Liverpool through injury. Andy McGann was again on the bench and he was joined by Paul Gledhill, back training with the club. Paul last played in the successful 2006 Grand Final winning team. Dewsbury also had changes from the team that fought back so well at Nottingham that necessitated a shuffle amongst the backs with Ben Diskin moving to the wing, Tom Perks was unavailable so Joe Waters stepped up from the bench to start as hooker.
In the first half Bramley played up the slope but with a strong breeze at their backs. Early penalties were exchanged as the referee went for his whistle very quickly. Celtic applied early pressure but found no way through a well organised Buffaloes defence. Tony Williams kicked early in response to send Celtic back towards their own line and this paid dividends. After being awarded a penalty after Dan Caston had been upended, Williams put through an expertly weighted diagonal kick behind the Celtic defence and Matty Mullholland was first to the ball to score in the right hand top corner. Williams added a superb touchline conversion, 0-6 to Bramley after 6 minutes. Bramley continued to look threatening, prompted by Williams short and long kicking game. A good break by Brooke down the wing was halted by a trademark Flynn covering tackle and Danny Crabtree ran strongly only to lose the ball near the line, Bramley did well to keep their try line intact. The Bramley forwards got through a lot of work as they tried to clear their line; however on 18 minutes after successive penalties Celtic eventually found a way through when James Eatherley crashed over from close range, he failed to add the conversion. The Buffaloes continued to look dangerous, Caston had an excellent 20m arcing run which almost saw him break free to score. Paul Gledhill replaced a limping Richard Leese on 24 minutes and he immediately added extra power to the forwards. Dewsbury forced the Buffaloes to drop-out on 26 minutes and Matthew Booth fielded a high kick under pressure behind the posts. Two minutes later a determined Gledhill run saw him expertly offload in traffic to Williams who despite a high shot by Danny Thomas held off 3 would be tacklers to score by the posts for a quality try which he converted. Another high Williams cross-field kick almost put John Richardson in, the ball just evading his grasp on 36 minutes. On 39 minutes Bramley were harshly penalised for reefing the ball in the tackle and as always happens the opposition took advantage and scored! This time it was Dyson who opened up the defence to send Danny Lee over close to the posts in similar fashion to Celtic’s first try. Eatherley converted to leave it at 10-12 to the Buffaloes at half time.
Going into the second half leading was a top effort and to those watching was probably worth more than the slender 2 point advantage the Buffaloes held. Any thoughts that playing down the slope would prove to be an overwhelming advantage for the Buffaloes never materialised for a variety of reasons. Bramley failed to complete too many sets due to some sloppy handling, poor passing and at time some indecisive decision making. To their credit Dewsbury were presented with more ball in better field position than they could have imagined and therefore grew in confidence, they spent a large proportion of the second half in Bramley’s half, forcing three drop-outs in the process. Celtic half back Scott Dyson and fullback Danny Thomas monopolised the ball for Celtic in the second half and Bramley found themselves on the back foot for some considerable time. After forcing two successive drop-outs, good handling by Dyson again this time put Thomas into a gap which he scorched through for a deserved try, putting Celtic into the lead for the first time on 48 minutes. Eatherley’s conversion coming back off the upright. Bramley though have been here before and they know how to respond, and respond they did albeit in a slightly bizarre fashion. On 51 minutes after hammering away at the Celtic line, on the last tackle under the post the ball was spun left, however terrific scrambling defence seemed to have snuffed out any try scoring opportunity until Richard Leese freed his arms and basketball style found Tony Williams. His high kick under pressure went to the opposite wing where it was well taken by John Richardson who in turn was held up until he slipped a short pass to Matty Mullholland who put the ball down for an easy score right by the flag. There was no conversion. Celtic hit back and forced a fourth drop-out of the afternoon but then had their plans hampered when Eatherley earned himself 10 minutes in the sin bin for talking out of turn on 57 minutes. The game ebbed and flowed as defences remained on top and neither team was able to carve out a clear cut point scoring opportunity. The game remained tight with only 2 points separating two evenly matched teams, the next score could be decisive as the game moved into the final 20 minutes. And the game possibly did turn on 68 minutes when after more crisp passing Brooke looked a certain try score for Celtic in the corner before John Richardson cleaned him out with a top quality cover tackle. Bramley regrouped and gained field position from which they were able to take the game away from Dewsbury in the final 6 minutes. First another top Leese offload put Hulme over, to which Williams added an excellent conversion, and then Graham Harrison capped a big game with a typical pick-up and dart over try on 78 minutes.
A hard fought three points for Bramley but a well deserved bonus point for a typically tough Dewsbury team who look a useful outfit this season. Dyson and Thomas asked lots of questions of the Buffaloes defence, however overall, the defence held up pretty well throughout. Big effort from the whole team defensively with much more to come from an attacking perspective. Forwards take a bow. Good effort from Paul Gledhill who was a handful.
Game star: Thomas and Dyson were very good for Celtic whilst Leese, Harrison Brandford and Gledhill were tough down the middle for Bramley. However Richard Hulme had a very controlled game in the second row, hardly missed a tackle and was on-hand to score the decisive fourth try for Bramley.
Game breaker: Richard Hulme’s try on 72 minutes expertly converted by Williams was decisive, however the Leese pass for the try was the game-breaker.
Dewsbury Celtic: 1. Danny Thomas, 2. William Brooke, 3. James Eatherley, 4. Danny Crabtree, 5. Ben Diskin, 6. Scott Dyson, 7. Josh West, 8. Lee Wilkins, 9. Joe Waters, 10. Elliott Smith, 11. Liam Walmsley, 12. Danny Waters, 13. Eddie Kilroy, Subs: 14. Jack Millington, 15. Danny Lee, 16. Matty Shaw, 17. James Halmshaw.
Tries: Eatherley (18), Lee (39), Thomas (48)
Goals: Eatherley 1/3
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Shaun Flynn, 2. John Richardson, 3. Matt Mullholland, 4. Dan Caston, 5. Jimmy Waddington, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Matthew Booth, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Junior Brandford, 11. Simon Speight, 12. Richard Hulme, 13. Jon Nicholls, Subs: 14. Craig Green, 15. Andy McGann, 16. Chris Gardner, 17. Paul Gledhill
Tries: Mullholland (6 & 51), Williams (28), Hulme (74), Harrison (78)
Goals: Williams 3/5
Final score: 14-26
Penalty Count: 16(8) – 17(9)
Sin-Bin: James Eatherley (Celtic)
Man of the Match:
Dewsbury Celtic: Liam Walmsley
Bramley Buffaloes: Richard Hulme
Next game: Sunday 16 May 2010
Opponents: Nottingham Outlaws
Kick-off: 2.30 pm