Aire 5 - 21 Old Otliensians
Local derby disappointment for Aire
Match ball proudly sponsored by Gwyn Jones
This eagerly anticipated clash with high flying 'Enisians, part of a double-derby weekend with the Crusaders playing 'Enisans' second team, unfortunately didn't go to plan at Nunroyd Park on Saturday.
With a reshaped side that saw Jonny Mackey (sponsored by Dave Greenwood) sidelined (injury) for the first time this season, the pack included Nick Jackson staring at hooker, and Tom Copsey at blindside flanker. The backline was also tweaked with captain Ollie Catherall moving to fullback, Stu Wilson and Nick Holdsworth starting at half back.
The game started with 'Ensians playing down the Nunroyd slope, and early-on Aireborough repelling a lineout catch and drive following a midfield infringement that allowed the kick to the corner. Successful Aire defence was followed by good exit, and Aire found themselves with territory.
Unfortunately Aire's lineout, hindered by conditions, was scrappy. The 'Ensians 10 going blind and chipping in behind, retook the the ball following a favourable bounce; great hands and finally a switch to the the 'Ensians centre saw a 60m breakaway successfully converted, despite valiant covering tackles from Harley Stevenson-Cocks and back row Copsey.
From the restart, 'Ensians worked their way into Aire territory and took three points following award of a penalty. 0-10 'Ensians.
Changes made, the introduction of Charlie Middleton, Si Hill and Luke Exley provided additional ballast at scrum time, and the trio carried strongly. Aire had possession and ball retention was excellent, but the effort was largely between the 22m lines and ultimately Aire didn't impact the scoreboard.
Otliensians, however, were not done in the half and spinning the ball wide created an overlap down the left wing to score in the corner. Conversion missed, but with a penalty added shortly after, the half-time whistle blew with Aire trailing 0-18.
The second half was a quieter affair in scoreboard terms, with Aire shading it 5-3 (small consolation on a difficult afternoon). The re-introduction of Adam Jackson (sponsored by Pizza House) and Martyn Booth, added some aggression. Jonny Hiles (sponsored by Large) used his bulk to smash through the 'Ensians scrum half, and quick ball from clinical rucking gave the Aire backs the opportunity to execute and score in the corner, Harley Stevenson-Cocks with a great finish as he received the ball 15m out with defenders to beat. Catherall was unlucky to hit the post with the conversion from the touchline.
An 'Ensians penalty was the final score of the game, but the visiting side also finished the game in Aire's half as they ran down the clock looking for a third score that ultimately didn't come. In the final throes, Stu Wilson paid the price for team indiscipline receiving a cheese slice to make sure he got his lips around the tasty Brown Ale he's grown accustomed to this season, albeit it was delegated to captain Catherall for an alleged festive stitch-up in the past, present and future post-game awards.
FT Aire 5 - 21 'Ensians
Champagne moment went to Lewis Barrett: in his last game this season for Aire, with 20 minutes to go he read 'Ensians' move in the three-quarters and sat their winger down in a collision audible from the touchline.
MoM: Harley Stevenson-Cocks was impeccable under the high ball in difficult conditions, and with strong running going forward bagged Aire's only score of the afternoon.
Next week sees Aire's 1st XV travel to Castleford for another Yorkshire 3 clash - ko 2.15pm, supporters welcome.