by Andy Coldrick
Warrington Wizards 66 (36) v Bramley Buffaloes 6 (6)
Reigning Champions Warrington Wizards recorded their first win of the season when they convincingly saw off Bramley Buffaloes 66-6 in clinical fashion in The Co-operative Rugby League Conference National at Wilderspool Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Following three defeats it was imperative that the Wizards got a victory under their belt and they certainly did it in style running in twelve tries despite the valiant efforts of a very game Bramley side that never stopped competing for the full eighty minutes. The Wizards fielded a pretty much full strength team whilst the Buffaloes were hit by player unavailability and late call-off’s. After the previous week’s sterling efforts by the players, supporters had further new faces to contend with in Tom Langton, Vaughan Walsh, Ben Wilkinson and Gary Nelson all making their debut.
After each team completed their opening set, Buffaloes winger Vaughan Walsh showed impressive speed to scoot down the left wing only to be called back for a foot in touch. The Wizards opened the scoring in the fourth minute when two quick penalties put them deep into Buffaloes territory and quick hands cross field saw winger Ryan Cosgrove go over in the right corner and six minutes later a lovely long ball from hooker Warren Ayres cut out three defenders and found winger Craig Middlemore who collected and raced thirty metres to score in the left corner. Ayres landed touchline conversions to both tries.
Bramley hit back on thirteen minutes when a penalty close to the Wizards line was exploited to the full when hooker Richard Hulme went on his own from dummy half and darted over at the side of the posts. Scrum half Graham Harrison added the conversion but any thoughts of a Buffaloes fight-back were quickly dashed when the Wizards responded by running the ball on the last tackle and stand off Alan Reddecliff’s inside ball found centre Darren Forshaw who powered over the defender to score. Ayres added the goal points. The Buffaloes lost influential Australian Sean Storie with a suspected fradture of the cheekbone on 23 minutes and he was taken to the local A&E for treatment.
The Wizards continued to turn on the style and punch big holes in the Buffaloes flimsy defence. Reddecliff’s break on 25 minutes was carried on by substitute Shaun Gilmour who was wonderfully hauled down by Craig Green just short; however a quick play the ball had the Buffaloes defence all at sea and second row Paul Alcock took advantage to score under the posts, Ayres converted again. The points continued to come as just after the half hour substitute Hayden James went from dummy half to score following a 40/20 from Reddecliff. Reddecliff took over the goal-kicking duties to tag on the extras. Finally, right on the stroke of half time a solo effort from the impressive Reddecliff saw him spin out of three attempted tackles to score under the posts. Reddecliff converted again to make the interval score 36-6 to the Wizards.
As per the previous week against Underbank, the Buffaloes conceded easy tries at the start of the half mainly through poor ball retention and weak tackling. A short ball from Alcock found substitute Dan Faulkner who barged over from close range at the side of the posts for a try converted by prop forward Nick Owen and four minutes later good work close to the Buffaloes line saw full back Carl Lloyd go over wide on the left. Elenn minutes into the half saw the Wizards bring up the half century when Reddecliff received the ball from the scrum and his arching run saw him round the cover with ease to go over under the posts for his second try and then a great break by second row Troy Brophy split the Buffaloes defence and he found Lloyd in support to score under the posts. Owen added both conversions. 58-6 after 56 minutes and Bramley had conceded 20 points in 16 minutes.
On the hour Bramley second row Nathan Smith was sin binned for punching and from the resultant penalty the ball was quickly swept out wide and Lloyd managed to squeeze over in the corner for his third try of the afternoon and then in the final minute a great fifty metre break by game star Forshaw split the Buffaloes defence and he sent Cosgrove over at the side of the posts to round off an excellent 66-6 win.
The Wizards were worthy winners on the day. However there is no doubt that as committed and as hard as the Buffaloes tried, they turned over too much cheap ball and their defence was poor, particularly inside their own 20m. That said they never stopped trying and it would have been too easy for them to throw in the towel on the hour mark and concede another 20-30 points. They didn’t, they kept working and scrambling. The forwards to their credit made some excellent metres when they had the ball and the backs showed glimpses of good work given the opportunity. There may still be more pain to come as the team gels, however there is no lack of effort or commitment. Get behind the lads and support the team next week at Coventry or at home to Nottingham in 2 weeks. Finally special mention to all the Buffaloes fans who travelled to Warrington, superb support for the team throughout – take a bow.
Game star: lan Reddecliff was outstanding. He directed all the Wizards play and weighed in with 2 tries and 2 goals, Darren Forshaw also played well. For the Buffaloes Captain Richard Hulme never stopped, likewise Graham Harrison. Tom Langton looked good at centre and all the forwards deserve a mention for some good hit-ups.
Game breaker: The try by Alan Reddecliff on the stroke of half-time to make it 36-6 killed off any lingering hopes of a Buffaloes fight-back, or even of getting a bonus point.
Warrington Wizards: 1. Carl Lloyd, 2. Ryan Cosgrove, 3. Darren Forshaw, 4. Liam Walsh, 5. Craig Middlemore, 6. Alan Reddecliff, 7. Graham Healey, 8. Nick Owen, 9. Warren Ayres, 10. Dan Stubbs, 11. Paul Alcock, 12. Troy Brophy, 13. Matt Wilson, Subs; (all used) 14. Hayden James, 15. Jordan Unsworth, 16. Dan Faulkner, 17. Shaun Gilmour.
Tries:Lloyd 3 (50, 56 & 61), Cosgrove 2 (4 & 80), Reddecliff 2 (40 & 54), Middlemore (10), Forshaw (18), Alcock (26), James (33), Faulkner (46)
Goals: Ayres (4/4), Reddecliff (2/4), Owen (3/4)
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Reece Spurr, 2. Alistair James, 3. Tom Langton, 4. Craig Green, 5. Vaughan Walsh, 6. Sean Storie, 7. Graham Harrison, 8. Dave Parker, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Sam Booker, 11. Zach Johnson, 12. Nathan Smith, 13. Graham Nash, Subs: (all used) 14. Nathan Williams, 15. Ben Wilkinson, 16. Jason Shaw, 17. Gary Nelson.
Tries: Hulme (13)
Goals: Harrison (1/1)
Final score: 66-6
Referee: Rob Jones
Penalty Count: 13 (9) – 6 (4)
Sin-binned: Nathan Smith (Buffaloes) – punching (60 mins)
Man of the Match:
Warrington Wizards: Alan Reddecliff
Bramley Buffaloes: Graham Harrison