Featherstone Lions 26 (10) v Bramley Buffaloes 26 (10)

A Dean Gamble try on the stroke of full-time converted by Leigh Joyce ensured that Featherstone Lions and Bramley Buffaloes both took 2 points apiece as a bad tempered and wholly unsatisfying game ended 26 all at the Millpond. Featherstone therefore ended the Buffaloes 100% record, however Bramley remain unbeaten and still clear leaders of the RLCN as we approach the half-way point of the season.

Once again Mark Butterill had to make enforced changes to his team as suspensions and injuries kicked in. Matthew Booth replaced the injured Gav Buckley, whilst Antony Ward, Chris Gardner, Jim Shuttleworth and Jon Nicholls all returned at the expense on Craig Green, Simon Speight, Dan Caston and Andy Wormald. Latest new recruit Richard Hulme was also on the bench. Featherstone also made 8 changes from the team that won convincingly at Carlisle the previous week.

Both teams sought to gain the upper hand in the early exchanges, however it was the Buffaloes who registered the first points on 5 minutes. Lions second row Greg Wilby took exception to a fair Drake tackle and lashed out, he was duly penalised and Paul Drake made excellent metres with his long penalty to touch. Aidy Manley then drove the ball in hard and on the back of some probing play Bramley scrum half Nicholls threw a long pass out that saw Nick Fontaine score in the corner. Bramley continued to dominate field position and possession for the next 10 minutes however once again over elaborate plays and dropped or misplaced passes proved their downfall and they were unable to put any further points on the board. At this point referee Nigel Taylor from being reasonably consistent in his performance suddenly awarded seven consecutive penalties to the Lions who took full advantage. Bramley were caught offside in successive penalties and Ben Smith was able to score an easy try with the Bramley defence in disarray. Joyce converted and 3 minutes later he added a penalty after John Elliker was penalised for stripping the ball in the tackle. Darren Fisher (Lions) and Jim Shuttlewoth (Bramley) were both then sin-binned on 27 minutes after the first of several on-field scuffles took place. Bizarrely the referee awarded the Lions a penalty after they had clearly lost the ball and started the altercation. Shuttleworth was the victim of mistaken identity when he was sin-binned, it should have been Chris Gardner who got the 10 minutes! Strangely the Lions again opted to take the 2 points on offer rather than test the Bramley defence, 10-4.
Jon Nicholls forced a goal-line drop out on 36 minutes as the Buffaloes started to come back into the game. More lost ball followed however as Bramley sought to level matters. Bramley appeared to want to score on every play rather than build pressure. Finally not for the first time this season though the Buffaloes scored right on half-time when quick passing put Shaun Flynn in at the corner. Paul Drake and Shaun Flynn remonstrated with the referee about a late challenge by a Lions player after the try had been scored and this earned Paul Drake 10 minutes in the sin-bin as a result. Matthew Booth stepped up and landed a superb conversion from the touchline as the whistle went, 10-10.

One man down at the start of the second half and it was imperative that Bramley made a solid start, unfortunately a penalty kick failed to fine touch and the Featherstone forwards made easy metres as they pushed the Buffaloes back. On the last tackle 5 metres out Mullachy dabbed the ball over the Buffaloes line and Nathan Pincher was the quickest to respond and scored. Straight from the re-start an excellent Lions sweeping move saw Adam Jones go over in the corner for a fine try. Joyce added the conversion, 20-10. With 4 minutes the Buffaloes had conceded 10 points and were all at sea. Immediately upon Drakes return Flynn reduced the arrears when he collected a smart chip over the defence and scored, Drake added a superb touchline conversion. On 55 minutes the game suddenly turned. Following more head high tackling and aggressive behaviour the Lions had 2 players dismissed, followed by a third 7 minutes later. Tempers boiled over on and off the pitch as the referee warned the Featherstone coach about his behaviour. To their credit Bramley were not drawn into the thuggery that was going on. The extra men told as Graham Harrison continued his fine form on 63 minutes when he burrowed over the line by the posts to draw the Buffaloes level. Drake added the conversion. Featherstone continued to attack Bramley, however all shape had gone from the game by this point as both referee and linesmen were continually intervening for infringements by both teams. Another quick passing move saw Flynn complete his hat-trick on 69 minutes and take the score to 20-26. However just as Bramley appeared to have weathered the final Lions attack, Chris Gardner was knocked senseless in the tackle and the Lions attacked from the scrum. Debutant Richard Hulme was dismissed for punching in the tackle and the Lions seized the opportunity when Dean Gambles stretched out to score under the posts with the final play of the game. This sparked numerous Featherstone supporters running on the pitch in an unsavoury end to the game.

On reflection 2 points is not a bad result, after 44 minutes Featherstone had the game there for the winning and through their own horrendous ill discipline they almost threw the game away. The Buffaloes on the other hand were overall poor throughout the game by their own standards, continually trying too many speculative passes and showing little patience in attack. That said they remain unbeaten and when they are patient and stick to the game plan they are better than the rest of the teams in the league. If the Buffaloes can use this as a ‘kick up the backside’ in order to re-focus for the tough games ahead, then this game may have come at the right time.

See below for important fixture information.

Game star: Shaun Flynn took his three try’s in great fashion and showed what a threat he his when he gets the ball in hand, is in great form at the moment.

Game breaker: Richard Hulme’s sending off reduced the Buffaloes to 12 men and gave the lions 6 more tackles and better field position in order to snatch a last gasp try and goal to level the game.

Featherstone Lions: 1. Ian Jackson, 2. Chris Hall, 3. Ben Smith, 4. Byrom Cooper, 5. Leigh Joyce, 6. Adie Mullachy, 7. Adam Jones, 8. Darren Fisher, 9. Dean Gamble, 10. Chris Bingham, 11. Nathan Pincher, 12. Greg Wilby, 13. Mark Spears. Subs (all used), 14. Sam Wilson, 15. Danny Huby, 16. Simon Child, 17. Gareth Jones.

Tries: Smith (20), Pincher (42), Jones (A) (45), Gamble (80)

Goals: Joyce 5/7

Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Andy McGann, 2. Nick Fontaine, 3. Matthew Booth, 4. Aidy Manley, 5. Shaun Flynn, 6. Paul Drake, 7. Jon Nicholls, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Graham Harrison, 10. Antony Ward, 11. John Elliker, 12. Jim Shuttleworth, 13. Danny O’Connor. Subs (all used). 14. Richards Hulme, 15. Scott Pendlebury, 16. Chris Gardner, 17. Steven Gill

Tries: Flynn (39, 51 & 69), Fontaine (5), Harrison (63)

Goals: Drake 2/4, Booth 1/1

Sin-Binned: Shuttleworth (Buffaloes) 27 mins – fighting
Fisher (Lions) 27 mins – fighting
Drake (Buffaloes) 40 mins – abusive language

Dismissed: Fisher (Lions) 55 mins – second yellow card/abusive language
Mullachy (Lions) 55 mins – fighting
? (Lions) 62 mins – Head high tackle
Hulme (Buaffaloes) 79 mins – punching in the tackle

Half-time: 10-10

Final score: 26-26

Man of the Match:

Featherstone Lions: Adie Mullachy

Bramley Buffaloes: Shaun Flynn

Next game: Saturday 13 June 2009
Competition: RLCN
Opponents: Carlisle Centurions
Venue: Home
Kick-off: 2.30 pm
More Information:

Important Fixture Information:
Bramley Buffaloes will play Gateshead Storm at home on Thursday 25 June 2009, kick-off 8.00 pm.