WILLIAMS INSPIRES BUFFALOES TO AWAY-DAY WIN IN LIVERPOOL
by Andy Coldrick
Liverpool Buccaneers 18 (0) v Bramley Buffaloes 32 (24)
Bramley Buffaloes made it two away wins from two in the defence of their crown as they successfully negotiated the challenge of Liverpool Buccaneers on Sunday at Sefton RUFC. This was a clinical display from the champions in what appeared on paper to be a tricky game, particularly as Liverpool had well beaten much fancied Nottingham Outlaws the previous week. The Buffaloes rattled up a 24-0 halftime lead and then repelled the Buccs’ attempts to snatch a second half bonus point to eventually run-out 18-32 winners.
Both sides were deprived of key personnel for this game, Liverpool were missing four of the architects of the previous week’s win, Jon Chamberlain, Andy Soutar, Steve Ormesher and Matt Garner, whilst the Buffaloes due to holidays, suspensions, injuries and work commitments, were missing several members of the team that won at Hemel the previous week, namely Paul Drake, Matt Mullholland, Graham Harrison and Dan Lavery. In came Shaun Flynn and Junior Brandford to the starting line-up, whilst Alex White and Andy McGann were on the bench, McGann only having the pot off his broken arm removed earlier in the week.
Both sides had early chances, Nick Fontaine went close for Bramley early on but his off-load was well intercepted with the try line begging, for Liverpool Alex Williams replied with a surging down the middle towards the posts only for the final pass to go to ground, he then left the field with a leg injury. Hard working second row Simon Speight then went close for the Buffaloes, closely followed by Junior Brandford, from the next play the pressure finally told when the quicksilver Williams evaded a couple of tackles and went in for the opener by the posts, adding the extras himself. Just five minutes later and his halfback partner Matt Booth joined him on the score-sheet, dummying to create a gap and sauntering in for the second and 12-0. Bramley were irresistible by this point, and opened Buccaneers again from a scrum, Nicky Fontaine slicing through from Booth’s pass from close range, and although Alan Chadwick proved a handful with some strong drives for the home side they struggled to make an impression on the defence. Liverpool were resorting to kicks behind the Buffaloes defence and did force two drop-outs I the first half, but nothing further materialised. As the half drew to a close the Buccaneers enjoyed good field position and plenty of ball but too often they lacked ideas to break a resolute Bramley defence. John Richardson went close for Bramley and Matthew Booth’s little chip kicks were also creating problems for an overworked Buccaneers defence. With three minutes to the break Bramley had the win sewn up when Williams stole the ball one-on-one on the half way line and had a clear run to the line, 24-0 at the interval.
With the result decided the attention now turned to the sub-plot of whether Buccaneers could take a bonus point, but that prospect appeared unlikely as their ill discipline continued to prove costly. First Steve Alcock was sin-binned following an altercation when Buccaneers had actually won the penalty, then Peter Green was red-carded after disputing his own sin-binning five minutes later. Two men down and 24-0 behind the team could have buckled but they demonstrated real passion to fight their way back into the game. Bramley should have extended their lead on 55 minutes when he spilled the ball over the line, Buccaneers capitalised on this let-off when Kevin Cunningham drove to the line and Mike Forber scored a typical hooker’s try, diving over from acting half for brother Sean to add the extras. Sean Forber made a great break and looked a certain try scorer before Nick Fontaine hauled him down inches short of the line, Fontaine was then sin-binned after holding Forber down in the tackle, from the penalty the outstanding Martin Gambles darted over for the try that took Buccs within two scores. Ill discipline was now costing Bramley dear, as well as more mystifying refereeing decisions. Bramley did however respond in fine style. Firstly Williams drove the restart kick into touch and then good quick hands saw Dan Caston show his strength and determination to bounce off a couple of tackles and score, 67 minutes 12-28. Buccs rallied again when on 71 minutes when livewire stand off Sean Forber intercepted a Williams floated pass on halfway and stormed in for the six-pointer. Any thoughts of an amazing fightback to snatch all three points or a bonus point were denied them as Bramley went back to basics and had the last word, Booth with the fine cut-out pass to put Jim Waddington in at the corner on 76 minutes.
In the end this was a good three points for the Buffaloes, considering the number of players unavailable and some of those who played were carrying knocks. Once again though ill discipline was a feature of the performance, better teams will make up pay a high price if it continues. That said, two away games, two victories. The coaching staff, players and supporters know there is much more to come from the team and points gained on the road now could be crucial. Besides Tony Williams, Dan Caston, Richard Leese and Matthew Booth all had good games, good to see Alex White too with some strong drives.
Game star: Tony Williams was elusive throughout, two tries and four goals, a livewire performance although Sean Forber also had a big game for the Buccaneers.
Game breaker: Tony Williams’ second try before half time had Bramley 24-0 and with the win secure, although Buccs made the second half uncomfortable for them
Liverpool Buccaneers: 1.Mark Aston, 2. Paul Scott, 3. Mark Webster, 4. Mark Forber, 5. Jamie Hammond, 6. Sean Forber, 7. Martin Gambles, 8. Alex Williams, 9. Mike Forber, 10. Steve Alcock, 11. Kevin Cunningham, 12. Peter Green, 13. Kieran Lacey, Subs: 14. Chris Atherton, 15. Richard Bryant, 16. Mike Astbury, 17. Alan Chadwick.
Tries: M Forber (60), Gambles (64), S Forber (71)
Goals: S Forber 3/3
Bramley Buffaloes: 1. Nick Fontaine, 2. Jimmy Waddington, 3. John Richardson, 4. Dan Caston, 5. Shaun Flynn, 6. Tony Williams, 7. Matthew Booth, 8. Richard Leese, 9. Richard Hulme, 10. Junior Brandford, 11. John Elliker, 12. Simon Speight, 13. Jon Nicholls, Subs: 14. Craig Green, 15. Alex White, 16. Dave Parker, 17. Andy McGann (not used).
Tries; Williams (9 & 37), Booth (14), Fontaine (21), Caston (67), Waddington (76)
Goals: Williams 4/6
Final score: 18-32
Referee: Michael Mannifield
Penalty Count: 19(9) – 10(6)
Sin-Bin: Alcock (45) retaliation, Fontaine (63) professional foul
Dismissed: Green (50) dissent
Man of the Match:
Liverpool Buccaneers: Martin Gambles
Bramley Buffaloes: Tony Williams