Bramley Buffaloes are just 80 minutes away from a dream National League 3 Grand Final at Widnes on October 10th after returning from deepest Hertfordshire with a 26-18 play-off win over St Albans Centurions.
The Buffaloes, smarting from last week’s defeat at Sheffield, put in a vastly improved performance to claim victory with every player putting in 100% to book a trip to Coventry Bears next Saturday.
St Albans took an early 4-0 lead but Steve Gill burst through a clutch of tackles on 12 minutes to touch down and level matters for Bramley.
The hosts nudged ahead again on 16 minutes with a try but 10 minutes later a well worked score got the Buffaloes back into the game. A deft kick through from Marc Gibson was collected by Danny O’Connor who made no mistake from close in. Shaun Flynn’s conversion made it 10-8 to Bramley.
Two tries from St Albans before the break put them 18-10 ahead but the resilient Buffaloes bounced back on 45 minutes when Luke Sellers exploited a yawning gap to touch down. Four minutes later the boot of Gibson did the damage again with Darrell Forster collecting the kick through to notch his third try of the season and make it 18-18.
Bramley then spent the next 20 minutes camped on their own line but immaculate defence from Tim Orr and Simon Bowker in particular laid the foundations for victory.
Flynn kicked Bramley into a slim 20-18 lead on 72 minutes with a penalty and then with just seconds remaining Gibson deservedly got on the scoresheet with a close range try converted by Chris Gardner.
Bramley coach Phil Hellewell was ‘over the moon’ with his team’s response to last week’s reverse: “We were under pressure for long periods but dealt with it effectively and had enough in the tank to shade the contest. It was a 100% improvement on last week’s display and we are now just one match away from the Grand Final.
“We face a very tough trip to Coventry Bears in the semi-final next Saturday but this performance gives me an immense amount of encouragement. We lost there in our second game of the season but we are a vastly improved side from that day and it’s going to be another titanic tussle.
“We tackled our hearts out today and it showed on the players’ faces after the game but this sort of spirit and skill can only move us forward,” added Phil.