Match report: Halifax 24 – Sheffield Oaks 10

Sheffield Oaks travelled up to Halifax, for their first game in Yorkshire 4 for many years. Last year’s excellent work by the players, coaches and committee resulted in Oaks’ promotion from Yorkshire 5, along with Stocksbridge.

Oaks played 4 preseason games, with some big wins against weaker opposition; this game would be a step up in the standard and pace.

Following a minute of silence, Oaks outhalf Lawrence Canham Kicked off with an excellent high drop off. Oaks were fortunate to retain possession tanks to our captain taking a receiver completely out and our coach Almond holding another receiver back. Following some short phases, it resulted in a scrum to Halifax. Unfortunately Oaks conceded a free kick at the scrum and a penalty quickly afterwards. From this penalty; Halifax broke quickly up the field from some excellent running by the Halifax 1st centre. While playing a penalty advantage, Halifax recycled the ball left and put the full back over in the corner for the first try of the game. The outhalf failed with the conversion.

Oaks retained possession from the restart; once again Oaks played some good short phases off Chris McDonald, with our young prop Malcolm carrying well. Unfortunately Oaks turned possession over within a knock-on; from the resulting scrum Halifax broke out. Oaks were penalised for holding on in the tackle. Halifax ran the penalty from inside their own half, gained good ground and managed to put their winger over in the corner for a second, unconverted try.

Behind the posts both Dave and coach Almond tried to remind the fellas of the game plan and that we hadn’t started playing yet. Following the kick off, Oaks managed to get a penalty which was kicked well into touch by Lawrence. Excellent take in the lineout; the drive by the pack was excellent – easily making a 15-20m gain.

Oaks won a penalty following a high tackle, which was kicked to the corner – Oaks were fortunate when Halifax knocked on and gave away a scrum. From the scrum, Kelvin went down the blindside. A great break again by Malcolm making yards; from the ruck Cameron picked and when over in the corner. A try which was richly deserved for all of the hard work. Unfortunately Callum was wide at the near post with the conversion.

Oaks were unable to claim the kick off and from the resulting play conceded a penalty to Halifax. Halifax outhalf kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout Halifax managed to drive and score in the corner; this try was converted by the outhalf.

Despite this set back Oaks applied a lot of pressure to the Halifax line from numerous penalty infringements by Halifax near their line. Unfortunately for Oaks, possession was turned over at a 5m lineout and Halifax managed to clear their lines. Half time arrived following a Halifax scrum and them managing to gain ground down the left with the winger and fullback; eventually the referee blew his whistle for half time. It was 17-5 to Halifax.

Paul Almond, Chris McDonald, Tom Green and Kelvin Charles all continued from their fine first half performances in the second half. Oaks managed to secure an early penalty from Halifax and kicked to the corner, once again the forwards worked tirelessly in mauling the ball with good effect. Unfortunately the referee penalized Oaks for holding on; Halifax managed to make yards up the field Oaks were then penalised for side entry at the ruck and Oli Sinclair was given 10 minutes to rest behind the posts.

Paul Almond and David Terrington were working well at lineout time for Oaks. Oaks tried to continue to apply pressure despite being down to 14 men. Danny Blythe excelled after coming off the bench when some good tackling and turn overs in the loose. Midway through the second half both teams were guilty of handling errors which was certainly expected for the first league game of the season; this resulted in a number of scrums for both sides. From one of these scrums Oaks managed to apply pressure which resulted in a poor clearance by the Halifax 15; as many a Sheffield Oak player and supporter has seen before Damien Roberts picked the ball up and ran an excellent line back evading tacklers and getting over in the corner. Unfortunately Callum failed to convert from a difficult angle on the 5m line.

Before the restart, Halifax themselves were reduced to 14 when their 2nd centre was sin-binned for talking to the ref. The remainder of the second half saw some good moves between both backs and forwards. Chris McDonald twice made excellent tap tackles on Halifax players like a young Peter Stringer. Unfortunately Oaks were unable to shorten the gap on the scoreboard from 24-10; the game ended with Halifax 2nd centre being substituted to prevent a second yellow card.

Oaks finished the game in the Halifax 22, trying to get over for a final try which would secure a losing bonus point. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The game ended 24-10.

Overall all 19 players who took the pitch for Oaks should be proud of themselves; a definite set up in standard in Yorkshire 4. Both Paul and Lawrence have plans for training for the boys to work on in the next week before our first home game.

Some noticeable performances from Tom Green, Paul Almond, Danny Blythe, Karl Ford, Chris McDonald and Kelvin Charles.

Team: Malcolm Blumears, David Terrington (C), Tom Green, James Smith, Karl Ford, Cameron Goodrich, Simon Crossley, Aled Vaughan, Chris McDonald, Lawrence Canham, Kelvin Charles, Callum Schofield, Simon Cowgill, Damien Roberts.
Subs: Steve Philips, Stav Kontou, Danny Blythe, Oli Sinclair.

Try Scorers: Cameron Goodrich and Damien Roberts