BUFFALOES WEATHER STORM AND MARCH ON
Gateshead Storm 16 (6) v Bramley Buffaloes 48 (24)
Bramley Buffaloes continued their 100% start to the season when they defeated a spirited Gateshead Storm side 16-48 at the Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday. This fixture was originally due to be played at Bramley, however at the request of Gateshead the fixture was switched to their home game in order to be the curtain raiser game before the Gateshead Thunder v St Helens Challenge Cup game.
Both teams showed changes from the previous week, Bramley welcomed back skipper Danny O’Connor, Graham Harrison and Andy Wormald, whilst Jon Nicholls, Jim Shuttleworth and Mark Butterill stepped down.
On a gloriously sunny afternoon Bramley kicked off into the teeth of a gusty wind and immediately got the ball back as it held up in the wind. Bramley immediately challenged the home defence and on the 6th tackle inside the first minute, powerful second row John Elliker had crossed under the posts after running onto a short pass from no more than 3 metres out. Drake added the conversion.
From the outset Gateshead were intent on slowing play down and not allowing the Buffaloes quick play the ball, unfortunately this worked against them as the referee pinged them for 3 or 4 penalties in quick succession. Gav Buckley was subjected to a high shot and from a position deep in Storm territory Elliker crossed for his second try on 7 minutes after receiving a nice inside pass, Drake added the conversion.
Storm touched the ball for the first time on 9 minutes when they collected a loose pass. Paul Drake used the wind to his advantage when he hoisted a trademark bomb on the quarter hour, Crawford Matthews the fullback was in no position to defuse it and he juggled the ball, Nick Fontaine was all over him and gathered the ball and ran unopposed to score under the posts. Paul Drake converted again.
Drake’s kicks caused havoc all afternoon and another one on 19 minutes almost resulted in another try as there was more hesitancy in the Storm defence. Excellent work from Nick Fontaine and Gav Buckley almost saw them score a length of the field try, however quick hands allowed Shaun Flynn notch his 8th try of the season to take the Buffaloes out to a 0-22 lead in as many minutes. Gateshead started to see more of the ball and posed more of an attacking threat, however Bramley’s play became a bit ragged with some dropped ball and uncompleted sets when they had the ball.
Andy McGann pulled off a splendid ball and all tackle as he was the last line of defence tackle on 29 minutes as Gateshead built pressure. Mark Dack at left centre crossed for a deserved try on 31 minutes after some poor tackling, Stephen Coutts added the extras to bring some respectability to the score. Shaun Flynn had a try ruled out for dropped ball over the line and Andy McGann had a typical weaving run out of defence. From a Storm lost ball near the Bramley line, Aidy Manley made a great break, however play broke down when Neil Emmerson committed a professional foul. Drake added the penalty on the stroke of half time. 6-24.
Within 2 minutes of the re-start Bramley had turned over cheap possession and Reece Young had crossed for a try for the hosts. Following a neat kick close to the Buffaloes posts, he chased through and was just able to ground the ball before it ran dead in goal. Coutts converted. Gateshead grew in confidence and dominated play for almost the next 20 minutes. Bramley were consistently penalised for infringements in the tackle and around the play the ball, a worrying trend in recent weeks.
These penalties along with an inability to complete a set of six tackles and apply any pressure themselves allowed Gateshead to dictate play. It was no surprise then when on 56 Dean Jamieson was put through a hole and scored, Coutts missed the conversion. With 2 minutes of Storm’s score Bramley had re-asserted their authority and they never looked back. John Elliker completed his hat-trick on 58 minutes, showing good footwork he scored from close range. Gateshead came back at Bramley, however good cover tackling from Aidy Manley, Shaun Flynn and Andy Wormald kept Gateshead at bay. Storm lost the ball twice in quick succession as they attacked the Buffaloes line, and on both occasions it was Andy Wormald who was first to react and make excellent clearing runs.
Three converted Bramley try’s in 9 minutes gave the score-line a more realistic look. On 66 minutes Paul Drake chipped over the Storm defence, Aidy Manley collected the ball and held off 2 or 3 attempted tacklers to score a good try. Five minutes later Drake went through a gap himself 15 metres out, wrong footed 2 defenders and scored under the posts. Steven Gill crossed the whitewash 4 minutes later taking tacklers with him for a well deserved try.
Overall a solid performance from the Buffaloes. They started well and were red hot for 20 minutes, then for some reason they went off the boil and it was not until the last 20 minutes that they re-asserted their dominance. Maybe running out to 0-22 lead in no time at all meant that concentration slipped, however a good away victory and nice to see John Elliker amongst the try’s again.
See below for important change in fixture information.
Game star: Paul Drake. Was dominant throughout the game. His kicking from hand proved too difficult for the Storm to deal with all aftenoon, he landed 8/9 goals in a swirling wind, hardly missed a tackle and scored a top class try.
Game breaker: Aidy Manley’s try on 66 minutes took the Buffaloes out to a 16-34 lead and snuffed out any lingering thoughts of a fight back from Gateshead.
Gateshead Storm: 1. Crawford Matthews, 2. Joshua Stoker, 3. Mark Dack, 4. Andrew Morris, 5. Michael Lassen, 6. Stephen Coutts, 7. John Coutts, 8. Michael Bryan, 9. David Vernon, 10. David Cash, 11. Chris Burnett, 12. David Norman, 13. Dean Jamieson. Subs (all used), 14. Karl Brandt, 15. Reece Young, 16. Mick Dixon, 17. Neil Emmerson.
Tries: Dack (31), Young (42), Jamieson (56)
Goals: S Coutts 2/3
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Andy McGann, 2. Nick Fontaine, 3. Gavin Buckley, 4. Aidy Manley, 5. Shaun Flynn, 6. Paul Drake, 7. Scott Pendlebury, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Simon Speight, 11. John Elliker, 12. Danny O’Connor, 13. Dan Caston. Subs (all used). 14. Craig Green, 15. Matthew Booth, 16. Andy Wormald, 17. Steven Gill
Tries: Elliker (1, 7 & 58), Fontaine (15), Flynn (22), Manley (66), Drake (71), Gill (75)
Goals: Drake 8/9
Sin-Binned: Emmerson (Gateshead Storm), 39 mins, professional foul
Final score: 16-48
Man of the Match:
Gateshead Storm: Mark Dack
Bramley Buffaloes: John Elliker
Next game: Saturday 6 June 2009
Opponents: Featherstone Lions
Kick-off: 2.30 pm
More Information: http://www.bramley-rlfc.co.uk/
Important Fixture Information:
Bramley Buffaloes next home game is now v Carlisle Centurions on Saturday 13 June 2009, kick-off 2.30 pm.
Bramley Buffaloes will now play Gateshead Storm at home on Thursday 25 June 2009, kick-off 8.00 pm.