Buffaloes fall at the final hurdle against East Hull in the YML Shield Cup final
Andy & Devon Johnson
Under a deluge of rain and echoing thunderclaps in Featherstone, the Buffaloes stepped onto the field with anticipation for the YML Shield Final. This was a welcome sight since frantic calls had to be made before kick-off for someone to collect the kit that had been mistakenly left behind! As the heavens opened and the team lined up, some wondered if this was a positive omen.
The first ten minutes of the match revealed that both teams were evenly matched. The Bramley backs, known for their speed and agility, struggled to maintain their footing on the slippery pitch, despite openings beckoning. Pinned within their own 20 meters, the Buffaloes sent a long kick up-field and looked to have gained a better field position as the East Hull fullback was tackled on the halfway line. However, he somehow managed to pass the ball out as he was being tackled. Seizing the opportunity, the Hull wingman ran 50 meters unopposed to score a try, though unconverted. The score stood at Buffaloes 0 – 4.
The early setback prompted the Buffaloes to intensify their efforts, and they nearly levelled the score in the 15th minute when a pass to Johnny Fillin just failed to stick with the line at his mercy.
Undeterred, the Buffaloes dominated the game. Keiran Hudson displayed his usual determination and grit, fighting hard to ground the ball near the flag and opening the scoring for the Buffaloes. Connor McGill showcased his skill with a remarkable touchline conversion, propelling the Buffaloes ahead at 6 – 4.
In the 28th minute, the Buffaloes extended their lead further after a robust carry by Daniel Booth was taken forward by Johnny Filin, who crashed over the try line to score. The conversion attempt looked promising but fell victim to the swirling wind, narrowly missing the mark. The scoreline now favoured the Buffaloes at 10 – 4.
Throughout the first half, the Buffaloes exerted significant pressure, seeking what could have been a decisive score. However, they were met with stout resistance as the opposition-held them on the line on multiple occasions before the half-time whistle blew.
Half-time score Buffaloes 10 – 4
The second half of this epic match was an absolute rollercoaster of emotions for the Buffaloes and their fans. They came out fiercely determined to secure their third try, but the referee’s keen eye spotted two forward passes, both of which could have been nailed-on tries. The frustration only intensified when the Buffaloes were penalised twice in rapid succession, allowing East Hull to tap on the Buffaloes 30-meter line and quickly work the ball up the middle. There was a hint of a forward pass in the build-up, and the touch judge looked to have spotted the transgression, but the Buffaloes’ appeals fell on deaf ears, and the try was awarded. This levelled the scoreline at 10 – 10.
The Buffaloes were relentless in their pursuit of points, camping in Hull’s 20-meter area, but despite their best efforts, the final pass to score eluded them. Hull seized a penalty for a high tackle, which gave them a much-needed escape from their danger zone. In the 65th minute, they broke through the Buffaloes’ defence to score another try, even though the fullback’s last-ditch tackle resulted in a concerning ankle injury. The scoreline now favoured Hull at 10-16.
Refusing to surrender, the Buffaloes fought back valiantly, reducing the deficit to a mere 2 points in the 70th minute when Kieran Foster-Matthews showed Hull a clean pair of heels to dot down wide on the right. The conversion attempt was agonisingly just short, leaving the scoreline at Buffaloes 14 – 16.
The Buffaloes’ relentless pressure brought them tantalisingly close to further points. Two minutes after their previous try, Kieran Hudson dove for the line by the corner flag though the referee adjudged that he had made a double movement. Moments later, the Buffaloes were diving for the line once more, only for the referee to call back the play for an alleged forward pass, leaving the Buffaloes to ponder what might have been.
As if fate had turned against them, a contentious play in the 76th minute saw Hull put up a bomb as they were pinned in their own half. Kieran Foster-Matthews juggled the ball but failed to gather it cleanly. He appeared to have regathered the ball when the chasing Hull player seemingly kicked the ball and Kieran’s face as he did so. The ball came free the referee, perhaps controversially, saw no infringement and allowed Hull to score a heart-breaking try, widening the gap to 14-20.
With their spirits undeterred, the Buffaloes launched one last attack, building play on the left before finding an overlap on the right, leading to Bailey Harmon sailing in to put the ball down for what looked like a crucial try. The referee had a clear view from 10 meters away but consulted the right-hand touch judge since the try was millimetres from his feet. All was looking promising until the referee somewhat bizarrely conferred with the left-hand touch judge, who was far from the play of the ball and then wiped out the try for an obstruction, leaving Buffaloes fans in disbelief.
Hull gleefully took the ball up one last time and was met with some robust defending by the Buffaloes. Following a short bout of “the biff”, the referee blew for time.
In the end, it was a case of so near, yet so far for the Buffaloes, who displayed immense courage and tenacity throughout the game. Credit must be given to Hull for their excellent defending, and although Dan Booth’s non-stop running deservedly earned him accolades, the Man of the Match award went to a Hull player.
The Buffaloes may have fallen at the final hurdle, but they can take pride in their performance and use this experience as a stepping stone towards their pursuit of the league title. The road may have been bumpy, and luck might not have favoured them on this particular day, but with their fighting spirit and determination, there’s no doubt that their winning streak will return and that this team is on the up.
Full-time Buffaloes 14 – 20 East Hull
Buffaloes: 1) Kieran Foster-Matthews, 2) Jonathan Filin, 3) Daniel Booth, 4) Sam Neave, 5) Kieran Hudson, 6) Martin Loveridge, 7) Lochlan McGill, 8) Jacob Oldroyd, 9) Bradley Wilson, 10) Cameron McLachlan, 11) Thomas Langton, 12) Lewis Gaunt, 13) Connor McGill, Subs (All Used); 15) Kieran McFarlane, 14) Jack Boot, 16) Michael Wright, 17) Lewis Bromley, 18) Charlie McMurray, 19) Bailey Harman, 20) Louis Morrison
Tries: Hudson, Filin, Foster-Matthews
Goals: Connor McGill