by Andy Coldrick 

Bramley Buffaloes 12 (6) v Huddersfield Underbank 24 (8)

Huddersfield Underbank secured their place in next week’s RLCN Grand Final following their 12-24 victory at the home of last season’s champions, the Bramley Buffaloes with a professional and well executed victory at rain swept Stanningley on Sunday. It was this time last season that the two clubs met in the final with the Buffaloes victorious on that occasion, however it was Huddersfield Underbank who held the upper hand for most of this game and they will now believe they have a real chance of securing silverware next week against Warrington Wizards.

The Buffaloes team showed a number of enforced changes to that which took the field against the Wizards. Both centres, Matthew Booth and Mat Mulholland were missing due to broken hand and broken nose respectively and Paul Gledhill was unavailable. Dan Caston and Paul Drake moved into the centres whilst James Brown and Robin Wilkes came back into the pack. Influential stand-off Neil Barrett returned for Underbank, Joe Worthington moving onto the wing. Nathan Chappell returned from suspension to bolster an impressive Underbank pack.

In front of a good sized crowd Underbank kicked off and there was nothing in the early exchanges. James Brown did well to charge-down a Barrett chip on 2 minutes but he was quickly tackled before he got going. Underbank opened the scoring on 7 minutes when a Buffaloes passing move saw Neil Barrett make an interception on half-way and then show good speed to out pace the covering defence and go over in the left-hand corner. There was no conversion. This score seemed to spark Huddersfield Underbank and on the back of several cheap penalties they were able to apply concerted pressure to the Buffaloes line. They duly doubled their lead on 12 minutes when Joe Worthington out jumped John Richardson to score in the opposite corner, again there was no conversion. Bramley Buffaloes were having problems getting out of their own half, every time they appeared to be about to apply some pressure there would be a mis-placed pass, lost ball of some very effective defending from the visitors. Once again the game, although not dirty, was littered with a series of minor infringements by both teams that stopped the game flowing. After conceding numerous early penalties, it was Underbank’s turn to lose their discipline as they were penalised for a series of infringements. This allowed Bramley to finally mount some serious pressure on the Underbank line which paid dividends on 28 minutes when a Williams chip was brilliantly collected tight to the touchline by Andy McGann who then flicked an inside pass to Jimmy Waddington who went over unopposed from 10m. Drake converted to bring it to 6-8. The remainder of the first half was played out without further score. Bramley denied Underbank field position but due to some terrific tackling where unable to threaten the Underbank line.

Bramley opened the second half in determined style. Tony Williams followed up his own chip kick to tackle Nathan Williams under his own posts and drive him back over the try line to force Underbank to drop-out for the second time. Moments later a high tackle on Junior Brandford saw Drake level the scores with an angled penalty. On 45 minutes Richard Hulme was sin-binned for a high tackle, Neil Barrett kicked the easy penalty to edge Underbank back in front. Four minutes later and great work from the Underbank forwards carved open the Buffaloes defence down the middle allowing Dave Valentine space to run through for a try under the posts. Barrett converted again, 8-16. The game remained tight as the hour approached, neither team creating any meaningful openings as the penalties continued to accrue. On 59 minutes the referee showed Buffaloes substitute forward Craig Green a straight red card for use of the knees much to everyone’s surprise. Neil; Barrett kicked another penalty on 61 minutes to open a 10 point advantage, however the Buffaloes refused to go. Nathan Williams was sin-binned for Underbank on 66 minutes and Bramley made it count when almost immediately after some slick handling, Andy McGann went over for a try in the right hand corner, 12-18. Bramley surged forward looking for a levelling score, Graham Harrison and James Brown both went close, but there was no score forthcoming as Underbank’s defence held firm. A couple of loose Buffaloes passes allowed Underbank to clear their lines and on 75 minutes centre Adam Ryder showed why he has been such a revelation this season when he held off several tacklers to score a crucial try in the corner. Barrett added the extras and the game was gone for the Buffaloes.

Underbank came into this game on the back of some impressive form, exemplified by excellent away wins at Hemel and Bramley in the play-off’s. They have quality players all over the field and look high on confidence, are the Wizards good enough to stop them in the final?

The Buffaloes by contrast look to be down on confidence and short of their impressive mid-to-late season form that took them to the Minor premiership. Always tough to beat, the Buffaloes will come again in 2011 under the shrewd leadership of coach Mark Butterill. Congratulations and good luck to Underbank and well done to the Buffaloes on another entertaining season.

Game star: Underbank hooker Adam Carroll gave a top quality all round display in both attack and defence.

Game breaker: Adam Ryder’s terrific try on 75 minutes where he showed great strength to get over in the corner, followed by Barrett’s excellent touchline conversion sealed the game for Underbank.

Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Jimmy Waddington, 2. Andy McGann, 3. Dan Caston, 4. Paul Drake, 5. John Richardson, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Junior Brandford, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Simon Speight, 11. James Brown, 12. John Elliker, 13. Robin Wilkes, Subs (all used): 14. Craig Green, 15. Danny Mitchell, 16. Richard Hulme, 17. Richard Leese.
Tries: Waddington (28), McGann (66)
Goals: Drake 2/3

Huddersfield Underbank Rangers: 1. Nathan Williams, 2. Joe Worthington, 3. Alex Chatterton, 4. Adam Ryder, 5. Richard Aka, 6. Neil Barrett, 7. Tom Antony, 8. Dave Valentine, 9. Adam Carroll, 10. Sam Housley, 11. Nathan Chappell, 12. Craig Williams, 13. Lee St Hilaire, Subs: (all used) 14. Victor Smith, 15. Napoleoni Vinaka, 16. Paul Horsfall, 17. Sam Dalby.
Tries: Barrett (70), Worthington (12), Valentine (49), Ryder (75)
Goals: Barrett 4/7

Half-time: 6-8
Final score: 12-24

Penalty Count: 21(10)-20(10)
Referee: Tom Mather
Sin-Bin: Hulme (Buffaloes), 45 mins, Williams (Underbank), 66 mins
Dismissed: Green (Buffaloes), 59 mins

Man of the Match: 
Bramley Buffaloes: James Brown
Huddersfield Underbank: Adam Carroll