Buffaloes defeat Harrogate Hawks to go top of the table.
Andy & Devon Johnson
On a glorious and sunny afternoon, the Buffaloes, determined to carve their mark on uncharted ground, made the trip to Harrogate to take on the Hawks. The pitch was set for an epic clash though there were several players and positional changes compared to last week’s team. The Buffalo coaches had taken the opportunity to rest several key players and give all their squad time on the field in preparation for the cup quarter-final against Upton next Saturday.
The Buffaloes wasted no time in breaching the defensive line of the Hawks. Connor McGill skillfully manoeuvred through the left centre, securing the afternoon’s first try within 5 minutes. Adding the extra points himself, the scoreline read Buffaloes 6 – 0.
In the following 10 minutes, the Buffaloes maintained their dominance over a youthful Hawks side. However, a dropped ball and a forward pass denied them further points until the 15th minute, when Mickey Wright capitalized on a delightful pass to gracefully sail in for another try. Unfortunately, the conversion attempt veered wide, leaving the scoreline at Buffaloes 10 – 0.
Just moments later, Sam Marshall showcased his strength by storming in from 20 meters, successfully grounding the ball beside the uprights. Colin Cobley expertly converted the try, extending the Buffaloes’ lead to 16 – 0.
The remainder of the first half witnessed the Buffaloes’ continued dominance, yet a series of penalties thwarted their scoring opportunities and forward passes, denying them any further points.
Half Time Buffaloes 16 – 0 Harrogate Hawks
The second half commenced with the Buffaloes repeatedly breaking through the Hawks’ defence in the initial 10 minutes, but their final passes failed to find their targets. Lochlan McGill, displaying his agility and liveliness, embarked on a fantastic break and seemed destined to score the first points of the half. However, after a spirited 30-meter sprint, he was tackled just shy of the try line. (Hopefully, he didn’t damage his knee too much in the process).
Unexpectedly, it was the Hawks who secured the next try. Following a series of tackles, the Buffaloes managed to halt the Hawks’ progress, but the Hawks’ stand-off executed a well-placed kick on the last tackle. Despite some offside suspicions, the Hawks regathered the ball and were granted the try, which was duly converted. The scoreline now read Buffaloes 16 – 6.
This Hawks score was a motivating factor for the Buffaloes, as demonstrated in the 60th minute when Connor McGill effortlessly surpassed the Hawks’ wingman to dot down for a try. However, the conversion attempt drifted wide, leaving the scoreline at Buffaloes 20 – 6.
Despite being down to ten men after the referee took offence to Ben Wilkinson’s remarks regarding his officiating, the Buffaloes continued to dominate the game. In the 70th minute, Connor McGill completed his hat trick by eluding the attempted tackle of the Hawks’ number 5. Ethan McFarlane successfully added the extra points, stretching the scoreline to Buffaloes 26 – 6.
In the 75th minute, Connor McGill replicated his earlier try as he crossed the line for the fourth time that afternoon. This achievement was made possible by the robust carry of Buffaloes forward Mickey Wright, who proved too formidable for the Hawks’ tacklers. Connor left the despairing Hawks wingman trailing in his wake to score an unconverted try, elevating the scoreline to Buffaloes 30 – 6.
In the final minute of the match, the Buffaloes produced their most remarkable try of the game. Executing a delightful cross-field move involving several pairs of hands and a finely weighted pass, the ball eventually found the eagerly supporting Jack Boot, who sprinted under the uprights to secure the try. Ethan McFarlane confidently slotted over the conversion, resulting in a final scoreline of Buffaloes 36 – 6.
Overall, the Buffaloes’ coaches and supporters were pleased with the performance, and it was nice to see the whole squad getting a runout. This victory propelled them to the top of the league table, setting the stage for what is expected to be a demanding quarter-final match against Upton in the upcoming cup competition next weekend.
Final score Buffaloes 36 – 6 Harrogate Hawks.
Buffaloes: 1) Kieran Foster-Matthews, 2) Colin Cobley, 3) Samuel Marshall, 4) Connor McGill, 5) Lewis Johnson, 6) Kacper Mroz, 7) Ethan McFarlane, 8) Jacob Oldroyd, 9) Bradley Wilson, 10) Charlie McMurray, 11) Michael Wright, 12) Bailey Harman, 13) Lochlan McGill, Subs (All Used); 14) Jack Boot 15) Ben Blanchard, 16) Ben Wilkinson, 17) Thomas Langton, 18) Karl Wilson, 19) Dylan Maan, 20) Ben Gaunt
Tries: C. McGill (5, 65, 70 & 75), Wright (15), Marshall (25), Boot (80)
Goals: C. McGill, Cobley, McFarlane x 2