by Andy Coldrick

Bramley Buffaloes 14 (4) v Huddersfield Underbank Rangers 50 (22)

Everyone associated with the Bramley Buffaloes club breathed a sigh of relief when their RLCN round 3 game kicked off on Sunday afternoon at Stanningley against unbeaten Hudderfield Underbank Rangers. Up until just a few days ago the Buffaloes participation in the 2011 competition was in grave danger due to a lack of players and other off the field problems. However under interim Head Coach and ex-player Chris Gardner, the Buffaloes were able to field a full 17 come game day.

The Buffaloes lack of preparation time showed as they came up against a confident and well organised Underbank side who had already recorded victories away at Kippax and at home to Hemel the previous week and who ran out 14-50 winners on the day. The Buffaloes team showed just 6 players who had played more than 6 games for the club in 2010; the Underbank team was unchanged from the side that beat Hemel, albeit with some positional changes. Reece Spurr returned to the Buffaloes after last appearing for them in 2004, likewise Darren Greenwood after one 2010 pre-season appearance was on the bench, he too had played for the Buffaloes back in 2004.

Prior to kick-off there was a minutes silence for Dave Cromack, Bramley Director, club stalwart, kit manger, scoreboard operative and all round Bramley club man who sadly passed away just over a week ago.

It took Underbank just 3 minutes to get on the scoreboard when some weak tackling let in Alex Chatterton in the right hand corner. Joe Worthington limped out of the game on 9 minutes as both teams tested each others defences. The Buffaloes had some decent go forward as all the forwards put their hand up to carry the ball; however poor ball retention and decision making meant that ball was turned over in poor areas of the field, consequently the Buffaloes struggled to get out of their own half. By contrast Underbank saw plenty of the ball inside the Bramley half and threatened on a number of occasions, however sterling Buffaloes defence on their own line kept Underbank scoreless again until on 25th minute. The Buffaloes failed to find touch with a penalty and two plays later Boothroyd went through a large gap to score, Barrett converted. Back-to-back penalties followed by some crisp passing saw Alistair James go over in the corner as the Buffaloes responded in the best way possible. Bramley’s good work was soon undone though as Underbank posted two quick tries in the last six minutes of the half, Chatterton completing his hat-trick in the process.

Trailing 4-22, the Buffaloes started the second half poorly. Underbank scored three unanswered tries within eight minutes of the re-start, all soft tries from a Bramley perspective. Boothroyd scored a simple walk-in try on 42 minutes, Hendrick raced in from half way three minutes later and Carroll added a third shortly afterwards. At 4-38 the game was gone for the Buffaloes and it was a case of how many Underbank were going to rack up. However the class of 2011 responded brilliantly, all the players scrambled in defence and ran the ball in hard when in possession as they stemmed the flow of tries and posed a few questions of their own. A Storrie chip forced an Underbank drop-out however on gaining possession poor passing saw Underbank regain the ball and Barrett punished the Buffaloes with a superb 40-20. From the scrum Geoghehan crossed for their eighth try, Barrett again converted; 4-44. Despite this setback the Buffaloes persisted with their inventive re-starts and gained their reward when straight from the kick-off they regained possession and quick passing put Nathan Williams in at the corner for a quality score. Driven on by Buffaloes man-of-the-match Graham Nash, Bramley built on their score and from further excellent drives prop Dave Parker crashed over on 68 minutes, Harrison converted. Bramley finished the game forcing a second drop out and to their credit they kept their enthusiasm levels up, never throwing the towel in. Courtney Allette however had the final score of the match following his weaving run from half way and Barrett’s conversion brought up the 50 points for Underbank.

Underbank maintained their perfect start with this victory and they look to have the team to be a real contender for the Grand Final. The Buffaloes meanwhile have now got something to build upon and they should take heart from this performance which was fully appreciated by their enthusiastic supporters. The Buffaloes now have a platform to build on and I expect to see them become harder to beat as they gain more cohesion to their play and fitness. Chris Gardner and all the players should be proud of their efforts and can take a lot from this game.

Game star: Alex Chatterton was outstanding for Underbank, particularly in attack; however Graham Nash of the Buffaloes exemplified the Buffaloes spirit with a never-say-die performance.

Game breaker: Underbank’s two tries just before half time and their brace upon the re-start took the game away from the Buffaloes who at 4-10 after 34 minutes were very much still in the game.

Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Shaun Flynn, 2. Alistair James, 3. Reece Spurr, 4. Craig Green, 5. Nathan Williams, 6. Sean Storrie, 7. Graham Harrison, 8. Dave Parker, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Sam Booker, 11. Daniel McGuiness, 12. Zach Johnson, 13. Graham Nash, Subs: (all used) 14. Darren Greenwood, 15. Nathan Brown, 16. Garry Butterfield, 17. Jason Shaw.

Tries: James (32), Williams (60), Parker (68)
Goals:Harrison (1/2). Flynn (0/1)

Huddersfield Underbank: 1. Sam Hendrick, 2. Courtney Allette, 3. Nick Briggs, 4. Joe Worthington, 5. Will Midgley, 6. Neil Barrett, 7. Alex Chatterton, 8. Craig Williams, 9. Adam Carroll, 10. Sam Dalby, 11. Sam Housley, 12. Jack Mitchell, 13. Lee St Hilaire, Subs; (all used) 14. Andy Boothroyd, 15. Sam Cummings, 16. Chris Geoghegan, 17. Dominic Horn.

Tries: Chatterton (3, 34 & 37), Boothroyd (25 & 42), Hendrick (45), Carroll (48), Geoghegan (57), Allette (79)
Goals: Barrett (7/9)

Half-time: 4-22
Final score: 14-50

Referee: Sam Ansell
Penalty Count: 15 (8) – 9(4)

Man of the Match: 
Bramley Buffaloes: Graham Nash
Huddersfield Underbank: Alex Chatterton

Next game: Sunday 22 May 2011
Competition: RLCN
Opponents: Warrington Wizards
Venue: Away
Kick-off: 2.30 pm