BUFFALOES MISS CHANCE TO TAME LIONS
by Andy Coldrick
Featherstone Lions 26 (18) v Bramley Buffaloes 10 (4)
Bramley Buffaloes will reflect on an opportunity missed as they slumped to a 26-10 defeat against in-form Featherstone Lions at The Millpond on Wednesday evening. Looking to back-up from the weekends game at Underbank with other improved performance the Buffaloes were sadly generally poor throughout the game against a Lions team that did not reach the height of previous weeks and were certainly there for the taking. The game was marred with the sending off of 3 players in the second half, surprisingly in a game devoid of the usual edge and aggression.
Buffaloes Head Coach Chris Gardner named a largely unchanged side as the Buffaloes sought to put an end to their seven match losing spell. They welcomed back prop Anthony Ward and centre Steve Mead who replaced Sean Storie following his move back to Australia. Making his debut off the bench was former London Broncos, Salford City Reds and Barrow Raiders prop Andrew Brocklehurst. Karl Wilson withdrew just before kick-off with a broken toe. Featherstone also fielded a largely unchanged team which was looking for its fourth win in five games to go third in the table.
Graham Charlesworth almost scored in the first minute of the game as his chip over the Lions defence on half way was fumbled in mid air with the try line open to him. Bramley looked in confident mood as they defended solidly and looked to throw the ball about at every opportunity early on. On 7 minutes full back Jason Dodd chimed in to the line and nearly scored, only halted by some good goal line defence. Sam Neave who continues to impress was also held up, from the play the ball Liam Walsh put in a trademark grubber right under the Lions post which just evaded his chase with no Lions defenders in sight. Featherstone Lions were the first to draw blood when not for the first time the Buffaloes lost the ball early in the tackle count. Midway inside the Lions half the ball was lost and the Lions broke quickly through Rich Frankland who was superbly tackled by Nick Fontaine 30m out. The Buffaloes defence was in complete disarray as the Lions poured forward and crisp passing saw Danny Glassell cross in the corner, Ian Jackson kicked an excellent touchline conversion. The lead was doubled on 18 minutes when the Lions crossed in the opposite corner with a try from Ricky Williams.
Again the Buffaloes were opened up down the middle following good work from Kear and Mallinder; this time it was Charlesworth who stopped the attack with a splendid one-on-one tackle when the Lions should have moved the ball left. However that only delayed the inevitable as Hepworth outpaced mead and threw a good inside pass to Williams to score. From around the 7 – 32 minute point the Buffaloes did not get close to the Lions 20m line let alone apply any pressure on their defence. Poor ball retention in the tackle and poor passing saw the Buffaloes turn the ball over without completing a single set of six tackles in that time. In contrast the Lions applied all the pressure and tested the Buffaloes line on numerous occasions, however on two successive plays close to the Buffaloes line they opted for power-plays which came to nothing. To their credit the Buffaloes had scrambled manfully to keep their line intact. Nick Fontaine has been in great form in recent weeks and was always looking for work, on 32 minutes he burst through the Lions defensive line inside his own half and sprinted clear. Fullback Jackson held his ground and brought Nicky down 30m out, after one more tackle Nicky put in a short diagonal grubber to the corner and Craig Green bravely dived on the ball to touchdown under pressure from two tacklers. This was a great try to score given how little possession the Buffaloes had had up to that point. Charlesworth failed with the conversion.
Just as spirits were lifted by that score so the Buffaloes gifted possession back to the Lions when they failed to attack the ball from the restart and the Lions found touch just 20m from the Buffaloes line. The Lions moved the ball from left to right, Danny Glassell gathered the ball wide right, slipped, regained his feet and then proceeded to crab across then pitch without anyone attempting to tackle him, he then straightened up and burst through two poor attempts to tackle and go over under the posts. The Buffaloes finished the half on the attack inside the Lions 20m zone, only the third time in the half.
The second half saw the game deteriorate as a spectacle as neither team could get any momentum into their respective games. After more continued poor handling, decision making and penalties conceded for technical offences, the Buffaloes spent the opening 12 minutes of the half in their own half. The Buffaloes pack was led very well by Andrew Brocklehust on debut and John Rourke continued to drive the ball out of their own half, however a lack of cohesion frequently saw the Buffaloes back defending. Scott Glassell was dismissed on 52 minutes for kicking Steve Mead who was on the floor, bizarrely Mead was also dismissed, reason unknown! On the back of two more penalties Danny Glassell crossed in the corner a minute later, 22-4. Sean Emblen added a further try on 61 minutes as quick passing put him through a huge gap, again there was no conversion, 26-4. The Buffaloes continued to turn the ball over but somehow had managed to keep themselves just about in the game. On 68 minutes Lions Sean Emblen punched Ash Taylor as he played the ball and was shown a straight red. His dismissal did nothing to enhance the game which was only briefly lit up on 78 minutes when Graham Charlesworth evaded three would be tacklers and sprinted 60m to score a deserved try under the posts for the Buffaloes, Barrett converted.
Whereas the performance at Underbank was impressive, this game did not match that performance, despite the margin of defeat being only 16 points again. It could be argued that the signs of improvement are there, less points conceded, more threat in attack; however poor handling, some poor decision making and some key lapses in concentration cost us dear. That said, if this squad of players can team can stay together for the next 3 or 4 games; then surely a positive result cannot be far away?
Game star: Lions hooker Dean Gamble had a fine game as he directed his team around the field to great effect.
Game breaker: The Buffaloes didn’t look like they were going to score loads of points so to get back to 12-4 just before the break gave them a real chance of an upset. However poor work in defence to allow the Lions restart to find touch after Craig Green’s try and then to allow time and space for Danny Glassell to score from a position where he should have been tackled probably put the game beyond the Buffaloes.
Featherstone Lions: 1. Ian Jackson, 2. Sam Wilson, 3. Danny Glassell, 4. Lee Land, 5. Adam Hepworth, 6. Richard Frankland, 7. Kevin Eadie, 8. Mark Hear, 9. Dean Gamble, 10. Tom Burns, 11. Scott Wilson, 12. Ryan Mallinder, 13. Scott Glassell, Subs; (all used) 14. Ricky Williams, 15. Danny Milton, 16. Sean Emblen, 17. Craig Barker.
Tries: Glassell D 2 (36 & 53), Wilson S (9), Williams (18), Emblen (62)
Goals: Jackson 3/5
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jason Dodd, 2. Sam Neave, 3. Louie Barrett, 4. Steve Mead, 5. Nick Fontaine, 6. Graham Charlesworth, 7. Liam Walsh, 8. Nathan Lumb, 9. John Rourke, 10. Antony Ward, 11. Craig Green, 12. Ash Taylor, 13. Benoit Rogers, Subs: (all used) 14. Andrew Brocklehurst, 15. Tom Stuckey, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Graham Nash.
Tries: Green (32), Charlesworth (78)
Goals: Barrett 1/1, Charlesworth 0/1
Final score: 26-10
Referee: Sam Ansell
Penalty Count: 11(8) – 14(6)
Dismissed: Glassell D (Lions) 52 mins
Mead (Buffaloes) 52 mins
Emblen (Lions) 68 mins
Man of the Match:
Featherstone Lions: Dean Gamble
Bramley Buffaloes: John Rourke