Aire stand firm to earn hard fought victory
By Granville Sellers
Defensive shift and kicking game sees Aire home
Moortown 21 v Aire 43
Previous encounters against Moortown have always been tight affairs, so a depleted Aire side knew they would have to put in a strong performance to take the spoils away at Moss Valley. On a positive note Aire were buoyed by the return of stand off Harvey Sellers, who has missed 4 months with a broken arm & also flying wing Jack Dawson.
Aire started the first half playing up hill and against a blustery wind. A good kick chase saw Aire win possession back and a series of powerful drives were met head on by firm Moortown defence. Prop Ciaran Bonner carried hard and sucked in several defenders before the ball was recycled. Scrum half Spencer Wood identified space to the left and accurate passing released Jacob Bevan down the wing who scorhed into score from 25 metres. The conversion was knocked over to give Aire a 7 point lead.
Aire were caught out by the wind at the restart and the ball went into touch deep in Aire’s territory. Aire went off the top at the line out and the ball was shipped for clearance; however a scuffed kick gifted Moortown possession and they dotted over to make it 7 each. Aire began to soak up pressure and were pinned in their own half. Aire recycled the ball at the ruck and once again space was identified on the left. Harvey Sellers picked out centre Sam Woodley, who unleashed a superb 15m miss pass to Jacob Bevan, who raced clear of the defence and dotted down in the corner. Unfortunately the referee deemed it a forward pass and brought play back for a scrum. Play became rather and loose Moortown capitalised on a hack through and scored another converted try to make 14-7 at the break. Aire unleashed the bench with Haydon Pickett raring to go after recovering from his broken hand
Aire knew that they had the elements and slope in the 2nd half and the pace out wide to implement an effective kicking game. Aire fielded the restart and trundled down field; however Moortown's defence was strong and yards were hard to make. Aire noticed that the full back was not at home and a precision kick was chased down leading to a well taken score by Jack Dawson.
A mistake at the restart gave Moortown territory and they used their powerful pack to make good ground. Aire kept their shape and their blitz defence forced an error in the tackle and the ball sat up nicely for Josh Wood who outstripped the defence to score a sucker punch try.
Stand in prop Ethan Heede snaffled the kick off and showed good strength burst through a couple of tackles and then put on the after burners to score a solo effort from 60m to make it 24-14.
Aire had their tales up and Harvey Sellers put in a superbly weighted kick which was chased to perfection and carried over to force a 5m scrum. No8 Joe Priestley has been in great form this season and there was no way Moortown were going to stop him from rampaging over to take Aire into a 29-14 lead. Moortown are not a side who know when they are beaten and they went through the phases and applied pressure in Aire's 22. A series of penalties gave away further territory and the pressure finally told and Aire conceded and it was game on at 29-21.
The pendulum and momentum swung in Moortown's favour and they were camped deep in Aire ground for what seemed like an eternity. On occasions this season, Aire's defence has been flaky, but each player put their bodies on the line to repel wave after wave of attack. The likes of Calum Diamond, Tom Ayrton , Joe Priestley , skipper Eddie Farnell and Jacob Bevan put in some thunderous hits to prevent what seemed would be a certain score. It was a solid tackle by Josh Wood which forced an error and the resulting turnover. Freddy Pullan moved to scum half and accurately Harvey Sellers, who put another kick behind the defensive line. The bobbling ball was chased down and once again Jack Dawson latched on to score a pressure relieving try.
With the clock ebbing away there was to be one last piece of action, with flier Felix Kraam splitting open the defence. It looked like Felix would have the gas to outstrip the defence, but he was caught and illegally hauled down in a scrag tackle. The impressive Sammy Woodley was on hand to scoop the pop pass and race in from 30m. This was to be the final action and Aire ended deserved 43-21 winners.
Moortown are a strong outfit and when only 8 points behind it looked Aire were on the ropes and clinging on. Credit to the lads for showing great resolve and determination to front up and hold firm in defence. With front foot ball Aire's back line looked sharp and executed some accurate passing and set plays.
This squad put down a marker and have set the bench mark for next weeks game at home against Pontefract which is 11:30 KO.