Buffaloes dig deep to secure a victory against Scarborough Pirates
Andy & Devon Johnson
In what seemed like an anticipated victory for the Buffaloes on paper, given their previous impressive wins against Scarborough at home in both the league and cup, the match turned out to be challenging, especially coming right after their defeat in the cup final.
The Buffaloes showed up with a squad of 17 players, making seven changes from their last starting lineup.
From the outset, the Scarborough Pirates revealed their game plan – they stretched their big pack across an extremely narrow pitch, aiming to disrupt the free-flowing play of the Buffaloes. Despite some rustiness due to the lack of a game last weekend, the Buffaloes took the lead in the 10th minute. A powerful run downfield led to a skilful pass which found Jamie Donnely, who displayed both strength and speed to score a try. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed, resulting in the score standing at Buffaloes 4 – 0.
In what was to become the theme of the match, the
Pirates demonstrated resilience and quickly levelled the score through what appeared to be a controversial dropped ball in the tackle. Benefiting from a notably one-sided penalty count throughout the day, the Pirates were marched forward 5 meters and capitalised on this to force their way over the try line. The score was now tied at Buffaloes 4 – 4.
As the match progressed, the weather took a turn for the worse with the heavens opening. Despite the adverse conditions, the Buffaloes regained the lead in the 15th minute when Cameron McLachan, as always, delivered a strong and impressive run from 20 meters out to score.
The conversion attempt by Connor McGill wasn’t awarded, although it looked to have sailed through the uprights to the Bramley faithful. The score now favoured the Buffaloes at 8 – 4.
Once again, the Pirates responded with their own score following a penalty for an alleged shoulder charge that went unnoticed by everyone except the referee. The conversion was good, and the Buffaloes trailed at 8 – 10.
The first half of the match showcased an intense back-and-forth battle between the Buffaloes and the Pirates, with neither team giving an inch. The unpredictable nature of the game left fans on edge as it reached half-time.
Half-time Buffaloes 8 – 10 Pirates
The second half kicked off with the Buffaloes displaying immense vigour, especially Kieran Foster-Matthews, who scored two consecutive tries. The first came in the 55th minute, as Kieran’s lightning speed left the cover defence in his wake. Five minutes later, in the 60th minute, he replicated his feat, bulldozing his way over the try line near the corner flag. Both tries were expertly converted by Martin Loveridge, resulting in an impressive score of Buffaloes 20 – 10.
However, the Scarborough Pirates were determined not to go down without a fight. They mounted a spirited comeback, scoring two converted tries of their own. The first surprised everyone, including the player who came to score the points! After the restart, the Buffaloes caught the ball and was instantly stolen in the first tackle, 2 meters out from the line allowing them to sail over. The second try was a slow-motion effort where the usually steadfast Buffaloes goal-line defence simply opened, allowing the Pirates to gain the lead with a score of Buffaloes 20 – 22.
During this intense battle, Martin Loveridge stepped up again to inspire his team. In the 70th minute, he conjured a moment of magic, deceiving the Pirates with a clever dummy to the right before slicing through their defence to score a magnificent try, which he effortlessly converted, restoring the Buffaloes’ advantage to Buffaloes 26 – 22.
With the clock ticking down, the Buffaloes extended their lead further in the 76th minute, thanks to Sam Marshall’s return. Marshall powered through the cover tacklers to plant the ball over the line, and with Martin Loveridge’s reliable conversion, the score stood at Buffaloes 32 – 22.
Yet, the Pirates refused to back down and were once again aided by a penalty, courtesy of another puzzling decision by the referee. Martin Loveridge nearly replicated his earlier try, deftly breaking through the Pirates’ defence, but he was halted just short of the line by what appeared to be a head-high tackle followed by a kick to the head. Despite the Buffaloes’ justifiable protests, the referee dismissed their claims and awarded the Pirates a penalty for inappropriate language. Seizing the opportunity, the Pirates scored a converted try in the 78th minute, closing the gap to Buffaloes 32 – 28.
With just minutes remaining, the Buffaloes held firm, and Connor McGill sealed the deal by calmly slotting a drop goal in the 80th minute. The final whistle blew, and the Buffaloes celebrated a hard-fought victory against a formidable Pirates team.
This win was a testament to the Buffaloes’ resilience and determination, especially against a much stronger Pirates team than seen previously in Leeds. With only four games remaining, the Buffaloes have inched closer to securing the league title though we cannot rest on our laurels just yet…
Buffaloes: 1) Jack Boot, 2) Jamie Donnelly, 3) Sam Neave, 4) Samuel Marshall, 5) Ben Blanchard, 6) Kacper Mroz, 7) Martin Loveridge, 8) Cameron McLachlan, 9) Lochlan McGill, 10) Jacob Oldroyd, 11) Thomas Langton, 12) Bailey Harman, 13) Connor McGill, Subs (All Used); 14) Charlie McMurray, 15) Ben Wilkinson, 16) Elliot Carter, 17) Kieran Foster-Matthews
Try scorers. Donnelly (10), McLachan (15), Foster-Matthews (55, 60), Loveridge (70), Marshall (76)
Goals: Loveridge x4
Drop Goal: Connor McGill