ROB Arbuckle came back from retirement to bolster the Old Otliensians forward line but his presence was not quite enough as his side slipped to a heartbreaking 27-25 home defeat to Wheatley Hills on a wet and muddy surface.

The scoring was opened in the seventh minute by Wheatley Hills, with their scrum half chipping the ball through for the right winger to take over in the corner. The unconverted try left Ensians 5-0 down.

Ensians made good yards from the kick off but handling errors halted any serious progress towards the opposition try line.

Matters got worse when more interplay between the Wheatley Hills scrum half and their right wing saw the visitors go over again in the corner, taking them 10 points up.

After a quick penalty, Ensians looked set to go over in the corner but handling errors again gifted Wheatley the ball back. meaning a big opportunity missed for the home side.

The hosts kept the pressure on, with a solid scrum moving the ball out to Olly Eaves. He was then fouled by the opposing flanker, who received a yellow card. The penalty was successfully kicked by Will Cooper to narrow the score to 10-3.

At the 30 minute mark, the ball was chipped through by Eaves. It was taken on the five-metre line by the opposing full back, but he was wrapped up and dragged over the line by Luke Cowdell and Matthew Peattie for an Ensians five-metre scrum.

After an excellent set-piece, the hosts were denied by a penalty, giving the visitors an opportunity to escape.

Wheatley Hills then piled on the pressure and the visiting full back scrambled over to take the score to 17-3, following a successful conversion.

With only minutes left of the first half, Ensians moved up a gear and flanker Tom Dyson completed a lovely rolling maul, taking the score to 17-8 at the break.

After the restart, Ensians' rolling maul was pulled down by Wheatley Hills three metres out and the hosts chose to keep up the pressure, opting for the corner rather than attempting the kick.

Cowdell eventually bustled his way through to score under the posts and Cooper’s conversion took the scoreline to a nailbiting 17-15.

Wheatley Hills responded well, with their Number 10 breaking through the Ensians line.

Following frantic defence, the referee deemed Ensians to be taking the man out from an offside position and awarded Wheatley Hills a penalty try, taking the score to 24-15 to the visitors.

Josh Dyson brought Ensians back into contention with a forwards try following a solid scrum. Cooper converted, but the visitors were still 24-22 ahead.

In the 78th minute, Ensians were awarded a penalty and Cooper successfully kicked to give Ensians the lead for the first time at 25-24.

However, the last play of the game saw a strong scrum from Wheatley Hills, 20 metres into Ensians' half.

The referee awarded a penalty to the visitors as the scrum went into disarray, giving their fly half the opportunity to score a last-gasp penalty to make it 27-25 to Wheatley Hills at full time.

Despite the devastating ending, Ensians will hope to build on their strong performance for some crucial games ahead this season.