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Otley thwarted by Michael Coady knock-on
Otley 23, Leicester Lions 27
On a day when Ben Cooper (Otley) and Jonathan Boden (Leicester Lions) left their goal-kicking boots at home, Otley had to settle for two National Two North bonus points.
There was a chance that it could have been a home victory after three players were sin-binned by referee Will Halford in the same 75th-minute incident.
Otley player-coach Tom Rock, who saw the red mist descend, and Lions duo Jonathan Lowden and Boden were all given ten minutes’ rest after that melee.
But Otley’s fleeting opportunity, created when winger James Twomey scored in the 80th minute, was lost when centre Michael Coady knocked on deep into injury time.
Too often the midlanders carved open Otley’s defence with ease in the first half, taking a 24-13 interval lead, and the hosts did not really deserve any more than they got in a battle of teams on 26 league points.
The home team went ahead in the third minute when Cooper kicked a penalty from halfway between the 22-metre and ten-metre lines but, instead of settling home nerves, Otley seemed to get more jittery.
Twice they resorted to obstructions, the second and more blatant of which fell into the late-tackle territory and earned Jonathan Stannard the game’s first yellow card on eight minutes.
The hosts had already created one try-scoring chance when Cooper’s chip ahead was taken by winger James Wood but his inside pass to Twomey was slightly behind the winger and was knocked on.
Having already ignored a three-to-one overlap on their left, a close-in drive gave Lions lock Matthew Tuckey a try in the 12th minute. But the lead did not last long, former Cleckheaton second-rower Dave Freeman getting a try following Ben Steele’s accurate line-out throw.
But the home fans’ early optimism turned to moans when centre Luke Veebel, winger Joseph Marston and fly half Samuel Dimmick exposed Otley’s alignment and tackling in defence with tries, the last coming when Otley flanker Daniel Temm was in the sin-bin, Boden converting two to make it 24-8 after 34 minutes.
Otley desperately needed something to happen before half-time – and it did, scrum half Stephen Depledge giving them the injection of pace they needed from a tap penalty, full back Chris Gemmell scoring.
With the half-time margin back to 11 points in what was becoming an increasingly fractious contest, Halford speaking to both captains twice in four minutes, Dimmick had calmed Lions nerves with a 46th-minute drop goal.
Wood’s try in the 61st minute, straightening up after running on the diagonal, made Otley believe again – and that was strengthened by Twomey’s late try. But Otley simply ran out of time to exploit their one-man advantage.
Otley No 8 Rob Afoa-Peterson, on the comeback trail after a knee injury, said: “We were a bit asleep in the first half and Tom Rock told us off for that.
“But we won the second half 10-3 and if we can play like we did there for 80 minutes, then we will have come a long way.”