Keighley Academy vs. Aireborough Crusaders 78-12
Triple Trouble for Aire
Match reports have been at a premium the past few weeks, as have games due to the continuing adverse weather conditions. So this report will look to summarise the last three matches as both the report writing and results look for a return to the form of the first half of the season with the Crusaders at home to Old Crossleyans this weekend.
Skipton 2nd XV vs. Aireborough Crusaders 15-5 17th February 2018
Aire unfortunately came off second best in a closely fought contest away to Skipton, that featured the senior debut of several of our colts team. Early opportunities were left wanting, and a soft try gave Skipton the first score. Further points were conceded when a promising attack turned into opposition advantage with an overlap squandered and a loose pass in the home 22 was picked up by the Skipton winger who turned on the gas to score.
Down by 10 points at the half, the gap grew just after the break with another try conceded. With 15 points the deficit the Crusaders started to up their game. Jim Dolan organising the changes in place of his partner in pantomime Ian Claughton, brought on several youngsters whose dynamism was immediately felt. However, this did have the adverse effect of giving Aire one of the lightest scrums in their history despite man mountain Si Sharp providing the cornerstone, with David Exley and Mikey Dolan forming a brief second row partnership and captain James Underwood taking on a couple of scrums at No.8. More changes came in the final quarter and the Crusaders looked dangerous once again with Will Green moving to fly half and Hanson moving back to No. 8 shifting Underwood back to scrum half. Hanson showed his skill preventing a try with a Sam Underhill-esque style tackle, shunting the opposition player from the field low and hard as he went for the corner. Aire made their way on to the front foot for the final 15, with pressure resulting in an incredibly dubious score from Underwood (sponsored by freelance designer Sarah Greene, www.sarah-designer.com). Hard running from the pack took the visitors close, then the scrum half sniped and was stopped just short of the line- he reached out to make the remaining distance and avoided claims of a double movement by practically rolling the ball over the line. It was too little too late as despite some decent moments in the final stages they couldn’t move within 7 points for a losing bonus point.
Man of the Match- Mikey Dolan
All the young men playing senior rugby for the first or second time this week did themselves proud, however Man of the Match goes to Mikey Dolan at flanker. Dolan seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, tackling hard in defence (and there was a lot of tackles made) and running well in attack, both as a ball carrier and support runner. He is a definite prospect for the future, and this writer is glad to see him, and the other players in the colts team, moving up through the club.
Aireborough Crusaders vs. Halifax Vandals 2nd XV 14-27 24th February 2018
A compact Crusaders squad looked to repel the Vandals as they travelled up the road to play at Littlemoor. A bare 15 took on a decent size Vandals squad, who had initially looked a lot smaller when only 3 had arrived 30 minutes due to traffic but with a slightly delayed KO we managed to get a proper 80 minutes of rugby. Vandals started the better of the two sides and took an early lead but Aire started to find their feet. They spent much of the first period defending, doing well to find themselves just 12 points behind as players remained committed to the cause. The half finished with a shift in momentum as the Crusaders made the most of their most positive foray into enemy territory. Hard running had taken the Crusaders just inside the opposition 22, where scrum half Underwood struck again. Sneaking around the base of the ruck, then peeling off from the covering defender he found himself alone behind the line the defence line and was able to score under the posts. Marty Jones added the extras and Aire went in just 5 points behind.
With the narrowing gap, the Crusaders made a terrible start to the second letting a soft try slip through early on. After that sharp wakeup call Aire mostly had the better of the half, with the likes of Stef Zaremba making a difference with strong carries down the middle, scattering defenders like bowling pins. It was good work from the pack that made the difference, with Big Eddie Brewer using his power to drive over from close range. Again, Jones added the extras to take the home side to 14 points. Majority of the rest of the game continued in a similar vein, with Aire knocking at the door only for silly mistakes and penalties given away to see pressure fail to turn into points. Vandals made good use of their large bench against tired legs and managed to extend their lead for the game to finish at 14-27. Despite the disappointment of another defeat, the players headed back with heads held high after what was a committed if inaccurate performance.
Man of the Match- Richard Holmes
Several players had some of their best games in Aireborough shirts against Vandals, with Luke Buchan imperious under the high ball and Tom Heliwell making really good yards on his carries. However, this week’s MoM goes to international man of mystery Rich Holmes. Holmesy was tireless in his work around the pitch on both sides of the ball, then when his work was done he disappeared back into the ether as if he was never really here…
Keighley Academy vs. Aireborough Crusaders 78-12 17th March 2018
Despite the continuing wrath of the Beast from the East hitting Britain, the Crusaders were one of a small number of sides that managed to get a game last weekend. Travelling up to Keighley to play for the first time on their shiny new surface of the Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) Aire were filled with confidence, having won the corresponding fixture last year and recording a 66 points to 10 against them earlier in the season. Regrettably this confidence was short lived, as it became quite apparent early on that this was not the same side they had played back in September and in the previous season. This new look Keighley third team on a fast track of the AGP quickly asserted their dominance, scoring early on and barely stopping for breathe in 80 minutes which saw them score around 13 tries.
Despite what was a heavy loss, and a gulf in glass between the opponents (not to mention a number of injuries sustained) the match was not without its moments. A good period of pressure in the first half saw Will Warrington turn on the magic and score just wide of the posts, giving hope of the possibility of a try scoring bonus point. Another score came in the second half from Iain ‘The Ghost Craven, scoring one of the cheekiest tries of the season- walking a tightrope sized gap along the side of an unmarked blindside of around 6 inches to go over unopposed, to a bemused reaction from the home side. Finally, despite the possibly disheartening nature of the contest, it was another good week to see the colts moving up to play senior rugby. There is a lot of skill and a lot of spirit in the group of colts coming through the club.
Man of the Match- Tom Heliwell
In recent weeks and with some difficult match ups Tom has had to face some tough opposition and more minutes than he might be typically used to. In light of this, his continuing improvement both at scrum time and around the park has earned him this week’s MoM.