Match Report: Oaks vs Engineers
On a sunny spring evening at Fortress Niagara the Oaks took on the visiting Engineers in the South Yorkshire Cup Semi-Final. After a dominant display last week against local rivals Hallamshire, the Oaks knew that taking on a side packed with students would pose a very different threat. In the end, the Oaks saw out a comfortable 41-8 victory.
Despite the convincing result, it was the away team that opened the scoring. After a series of errors by the home team from kick off, the away team found themselves in a strong position, with a lineout just metres from the Oaks try line. Somewhat surprisingly, the Engineers decided to take their chances setting up a maul against the clearly more powerful home side. After initially stopping the drive, the Oaks reacted to calls from the referee and a number of the pack disengaged, opening the door to the sniping scrum half from the Engineers to put away what was a soft score.
This acted as a wake-up call for the home team who suddenly knew they were in a semi final. The Oaks regathered themselves and began to assert the dominance that they had shown thus far in the competition. The home side clearly had the upper hand in the set piece, and utilised this to their advantage throughout the game. The dominance was evidenced by number 8 Tom Green’s hat-trick and a penalty try.
With the set piece going firmly their way, and an all round intensity that the away side could not deal with, the Oaks firstly came on par, with Green levelling the score after ten minutes, and then began to pull away. Despite a poorly conceded penalty to make the score much closer than it should have been, the Oaks, through Green and Lawrence Canham went ahead on the score board and would not look back for the rest of the match.
First half tries for Green, Canham and a neat kick through from scrum half Mark Burch made the score at the break 22-8 to the home team. The message at half time was to cut the errors and the penalties and the game would surely be in the bag.
After the break, the game began to break up, with the home side defending strongly and the Engineers needing to try things to pull the game back. It was the Oaks that made the most of the open space and demonstrated some strong counter-attacking rugby throughout the half, typified by the try by wing Dan Hickey. The move began with full back Damien Roberts running into space and using right wing Melvin Codling well down the touchline. The ball was recycled and moved from one side to the other, eventually finding its way into the hand of Hickey who cannot be stopped from 10 yards out.
Despite a period of pressure form the Engineers as the game neared the final whistle, the game was brought to a close with a thundering double tackle by 2nd row Tim Mullinar and centre Kelvin Charles, which turned the ball over and, after a kick down field, the referee bought the game to a close.
In the end, the home team simply had too much power and squeezed the away team in almost every facet of the game. What was undoubtedly a dangerous back line was starved of front foot ball, and was on the end of some stern Oaks defence. The final score was Oaks 41 Engineers 8.
This weekend sees the final league game of the season against Hemsworth in a 3pm KO at Niagara. The 2nds are away at local rivals in a 1pm KO. The final of the South Yorkshire Cup takes place next Wednesday 27th April at Niagara. 6:30pm KO. In what will undoubtedly be a step up from the previous games, the Oaks look forward to as much support as possible in their attempt to gain some silverware this season.