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Late tries preserve Otley's winning start
Buy this photo » Otley's teenage fly half Ben Cooper is snared
Otley 24, Bromsgrove 18
Otley preserved their 100 per cent record in SSE National League Two North yesterday - but it was a close-run thing.
They trailed 18-9 to Midlanders Bromsgrove with five minutes of normal time remaining but then scored three tries in the next seven minutes via Jack Mackie, Daniel Temm and skipper Adam Blades to remain second in the table.
“We were never in control of that game but our win was down to fitness and character,” admitted a relieved Otley director of rugby Tom Rock.
“Last season we would have lost that game after the way the first 60 minutes had gone but we found a way to keep going for 80 minutes and we pulled together.
“The impact of our four replacements in the last 25 minutes was massive - hooker Henry Walker, who made his debut for us, Kirk Arundale at scrum half in his second spell at the club, William Magie in the backs and Tom O’Donnell in the back row.”
Otley’s first three games had contained 210 points, with Otley’s average winning score being 39-31, but this game was much tighter.
“The referee’s interpretation of the contact area meant it was never going to be like the other games,” said a critical Rock.
Otley made the worst of starts. Flanker Temm spilled the kick-off, Bromsgrove centre Charles Jones sliced through Otley’s first line of defence and put full back Aaron Higgins in for a try after just 27 seconds.
Fly halves Ben Cooper and Bromsgrove skipper Jonathan Critchlow then shared penalties, Cooper’s second putting Otley back to within two points at 8-6 in the 25th minute.
But Otley couldn’t capitalise on the first of three yellow cards for the visitors when their right winger Sam Bastock was given ten minutes for obstructing Otley’s left winger Michael Coady, Critchlow’s second penalty giving Bromsgrove an 11-6 advantage at half-time.
Otley prop Toby Williams running over Bromsgrove centre Tom Millen early in the second half seemed to spark up Otley, and Cooper’s third penalty hauled them back to 11-9 but the hosts were denied a try when flanker Johnathan Matthews put a foot in touch in the 54th minute.
Even worse, Otley paid a high price for a knock-on by full back Chris Gemmell immediately after.
That gave Bromsgrove an excellent attacking platform and they pulled the home defence left and then right before Higgins went over for his second try in the 57th minute.
Critchlow’s conversion extended the advantage to 18-9 but the visitors were to pay the ultimate penalty for yellow cards to second row Steven Smith (65 minutes) and Higgins (78).
Centre Mackie scored for the Cross Greeners in the 75th minute after they had also pulled Bromsgrove from one side of the field to the other, Temm put the hosts in front by scoring in the 78th minute, and prop Blades finished things off with a try in the second minute of stoppage time.