Oaks fought for everything in a bruising win at home to lift them off the bottom of the Yorkshire 4 table. The always keenly contested encounter took on added significance with the Oaks sat bottom of the table with Mosborough hovering just above them. The result lifts the home team off the bottom, and with winnable games in the upcoming weeks, could kick start a late season revival.
The Oaks started slowly, with the visiting 10 ghosting through a gap early doors and pressure being exerted on the Oaks defence for the first ten minutes, the Oaks had to weather the storm. This they did with a glimpse of what would be a staunch defensive display. Despite the early pressure, the Oaks began to edge ahead through the boot of Callum Schofield, who slotted a couple of penalties to make the most of limited home field position.
Mosborough began to regain momentum, and after some loose play in the Oaks half, threw the ball wide for a score in the corner. Oaks regathered their composure and went back down field through some excellent tactical kicking from half-backs Mark Burch and Nick Watson Jones pushing Mosborough deep into their own half. Oaks pressured the resulting 5m lineout with flanker Aled Vaughan and Stav Kontou hounding the scrappy ball, resulting in a score for the hooker. Schofield had clearly brought his kicking boots, slotting the conversion from the touchline.
Next it was the turn of Mosborough to take advantage of possession and pressure, with the visiting side awarded a penalty 10 metres from the Oaks line, and a quick tap to score. This brought the score to 13-10 at the break; a frustrating end to the first half for the Oaks, who looked the stronger team in both defence and attack.
Both sides knew it would be a tough second half, with the scoreboard close. Oaks also knew they wouldn’t be able to rely on the boot of Schofield, with the centre departing the field at the break due to a knock.
The visiting team again started strongly, knowing they had to score first if they were to win the game. With the Oaks line under siege the fitness and attitude of the home side was tested. The home side absorbed wave after wave of predominantly forward play through Mosborough’s big men and ever present mauling game. Despite the hard graft, the Oaks conceded another sloppy try through a midfield interception.
The home side didn’t panic and trusted their game to bring the result home, and with more forward play deep in the Mosborough half, the Oaks muscled over a maul off the line out which functioned excellently all game. Number 8 Tom Green again commanding the back of the maul for a much deserved score. The touchline conversion was this time missed.
With the home side ahead by just the 3 points, Mosborough knew it was do or die and threw everything at the Oaks defence. Again, resorting to the maul as a weapon, the visitors were awarded a penalty and a yellow card for back rower Green.
Down to 14 for the final 10 minutes, the Oaks knew it was backs to the wall time and seemed fired up by the test. Driving the Mosborough attack back with every phase they eventually secured possession and looked to go down field. With some excellent quick ball, back row Tim Mullinar came closest to sealing it for the home side in the right hand corner. However, possession was lost and Mosborough kicked to crowd favourite Dan Hickey who, starved of ball for much of the game relished a charge at the defence. Bundling tacklers off left and right, to the screams of the WAGS, he was eventually hauled down.
Mosborough had one final attack, but from deep in their own half, the scrambling Oaks defence managed to bundle to threatening winger into touch to put an end to the game and secure a much needed and well deserved victory.
The Man of the Match contest was a close one, with powerful flanker Mullinar edging it over hooker Kontou. There was an extremely welcome return to first team rugby for full back Damien Roberts after a 16 month injury lay off. He was duly awarded the Dick of the Day award for failure to score the 3 tries expected of him.
It was a derby day double header, with the second team away against Mosborough 2s. In what sounded like a closely fought game, the Oaks narrowly missed out on the derby double, with that game finishing 20-15 to Mosborough. As always, the lads showed great team spirit and some really promising players are developing. In particular, debutant Jonny Hayter had a strong game at fly-half, and Jonny Wilson had another strong performance in the second row. First team regular Mike Kontou brought his power and pace to bear in the front row.
Thanks to all the supporters on the day. Next weekend the first team travel to Ossett, whilst the second team host the University History Society side.