It was an afternoon of what-could-have-beens for Oaks as they lost 24-7 to Ossett. In reality, the score did not quite tell the story of the game, with chances being split close to 50-50 for the two teams. The difference between the teams was that Ossett put their opportunities away and Oaks failed to do so on a couple of occasions.
After last weeks narrow victory over local rivals Mosborough, Oaks were looking to back that result up with another win this weekend, and Ossett, who had lost the last 5 on the bounce looked to be a beatable team. The Oaks talked before the game about stopping the expected Ossett onslaught in the first 10 minutes.
Despite intentions, Ossett started strongly, with their flyhalf taking on the Oaks defence and using the big ball carriers effectively. Oaks regathered and began to gain some field position and possession; building pressure on the opposition defence. This pressure led to a penalty opportunity for centre Callum Schofield, who unfortunately missed the target.
Next it was Ossett’s turn to pressure the Oaks line. In much the same spirit as the previous week, the Oaks defence held out, forcing a scrum and then a penalty at scrum time to enable the away team to relieve pressure.
In a period of sustained Oaks attack on the Ossett try line, the away team came close on a number of occasions. A clever cross-field kick from fly half Mark Birch was gathered by wing Oskars Gusaravos who cut in field, took contact and managed to off load to full back Damien Roberts who was caught just yards short.
The Oaks began to lose their attacking shape, and impressive first team debutant Sam Wightman, spotted an opening and put a grubber kick through. This was desperately cleared up by the home team and the moment was gone.
With Ossett having scored a couple of tries in the first half, the score at the break was 12-0 to the home team. Oaks knew that had they made the most of their opportunities they could well have been in front at half time, and went in to the second half confidently. The Oaks pack was pulverising the home 8 at scrum time, carrying well and hitting rucks strongly. The Oaks made a change at the break, bringing on another player returning from injury in Lawrence Canham.
Unfortunately Oaks conceded early in the second half, making an Oaks fightback far more difficult. The away side were also hit by the fact that replacement fly half Canham’s return was painfully short, pulling a hamstring after just a few minutes.
With the pressure off the away team, they began to express themselves and played some of the best attacking rugby we have seen all season. Stringing numerous phases together, carrying hard, clearing rucks and moving the ball quickly, the Oaks showed signs of what they could do. All this resulted in a try in the corner; the scorer of which is an argument that will go on for a long time with both prop Leigh Brocklehurst and wing Daniel Hickey seemingly grounding the ball together.
With their tails up and the score now just 17-7, the Oaks really went after the home team; this time utilising the boot well to pin the opposition back and hounding Ossett with some excellent kick chases. Unfortunately a few errors allowed the pressure to be relieved, and with it hopes of an Oaks come back.
The game was not over, however, with the home team desperate for their fourth try. After a flair up between the teams, resulting in powerhouse winger Hickey receiving a yellow card with seconds left, the home team snuck over the line to really punish the Oaks.
Despite the disappointing result, it was one of the most positive performances the Oaks have put in in a little while. There were periods where the away team were clearly the stronger side, but failure to put chances away really cost. With a break in the Yorkshire 4 calendar next weekend, the first team return to play Leeds Corinthians in a huge home game on the 5th March.
The second team welcomed fast-paced student side History Society Rugby to Niagara in a game very much of two halves. A 36-5 loss today for the 2’s at a very muddy Niagara. Started very poorly, shown by being 36-0 down at half time.
2nd half was much better, improved ball retention and good defence in our own half for most if not all of it. Last act was a breakaway try by back Melvin Codling to give us some well deserved pride. Very good game overall, onwards and upwards for next week against Hallamshire 2s.