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Warrington 22 - Bramley 14
After the previous weeks stroll past East Lancashire Lions Bramley played the first of two consecutive tough away games, this week at old foes Warrington Wizards and next week away at Celtic Colts; Bridgend.
Matches against Warrington are historically tough affairs, usually with little open rugby, particularly when played at Warrington and generally it is a physical battle. This week was no different! Bramley welcomed back skipper Jon Nicholls, Shaun Gilmour also returned to the team. Kevin Till recently signed from neighbours Hunslet Hawks made his debut at scrum half deputising for Tony Williams who was unavailable. Tom Tsang and Graham Harrison were also absent from the previous weeks team.
On a bright dry and sunny afternoon Bramley kicked off playing towards the scoreboard end of the ground. Warrington completed the first set on the half-way line and on the last tackle kicked directly into touch. From the resulting scrum Mark Butterill drove the ball up field and was high tackled. Paul Drake who appears to have resumed kicking duties for the team slotted over the penalty from 35 metres out.
For the next 10 minutes both teams tested each others defence with some strong carries by both sets of players. Tackling was strong and few opportunities were created. On 15 minutes a good break by Bramley down the Warrington right side saw John Richardson put into space, however his inside pass to Matt Mullholland when to ground and a great chance to post the first try was lost. Bramley looked comfortable at this stage, running good angles and starting to get good field position and build pressure, however it all went horribly wrong on 24 minutes when following some excellent goal-line scrambling defence Danny Johnson was adjudged to have held his man down too long and the referee immediately despatched him to the sin-bin for 10 minutes, a harsh decision. Alan Reddecliff scored from the penalty and Chris Mellor added the extras, 6-2 to Warrington. Still a man short Bramley immediately responded when after a weaving run from Shaun Flynn, John Elliker waltzed over under the posts unchallenged. Paul Drake converted and Bramley were back in front at 6-8.
Unfortunately the lead was short-lived as Warrington scored a second try on 32 minutes when good handling down their left -hand side saw Warren Ayres score by the posts. Mellor converted. A Paul Drake cut-out pass on the Wizards 30 metre line was intercepted by Danny Shaw who looked certain to win the race to the line before new boy Kevin Till ran him down and tackled him as he was about to score, a fantastic effort that typifies Bramley's defence these days. Bramley re-gathered themselves and made good progress down-field. Andy Addison was sin-binned for Warrington on 38 minutes for punching Paul Drake in the tackle. Bramley spurned the opportunity to kick for goal but opted to go for the try instead, however good Warrington defence kept Bramley out and the moment was lost as Bramley were penalised for a double movement as they went for the line. An opportunity missed. An increasingly ill tempered first half came to a close when Warrington score a third unconverted try by Billy Sheen deep into time added on. Half-time, 16-8 to Warrington.
The second half was for the most part uninspiring as ill discipline, lost ball and a succession of penalties, by both teams, ensured that the game never flowed. Warrington posted their only try of the half on 46 minutes as, Matt Clarke scored under the posts, this was only given after the referee who appeared ideally placed to see if the man had grounded the ball or not had checked with his touch-judge. Bramley though to their credit came back again and Kevin Till crossed for a try under the posts on 48 minutes, converted by Drake. 22-14 to Warrington.
Paul Drake became the second Buffalo player to be sin-binned on 60 minutes. Opportunities for both teams were scarce, Andy McGann had a good surging run as did John Elliker, however for all their endeavour Bramley appeared to lack the guile and/or patience to build consistent pressure. Silly penalties and lost ball frequently lost them good position. To their credit their defence remained resilient and they never stopped looking to go forward.
There were no further points scored and Bramley succumbed to their first league defeat of the season, final score 22-14 to Warrington Wizards. Bramley fans once again travelled in good numbers and applauded their team off the pitch at the end.
A disappointing result as Warrington were clearly beatable on the day, however a good result at Celtic Colts next week is definitely a possibility and both teams still have to travel to Bramley.
Bramley Coach Paul Cook, after the game had this to say about the game, "I'm disappointed with the result and the way we played today, but all credit to Warrington, they have a game plan and they made us play they game the way they wanted us to.