Vandals close in on title

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Halifax Vandals just require a win at Castleford on the last day of the season to be promoted as Yorkshire Three champions after blowing away under-strength Old Otliensians 75-7 yesterday.

They put on an exhibition of fast, open, running rugby in contrast to the style of play which has brought them so much success this season.

Vandals’ frustration had begun on Thursday evening when Otliensians had rung claiming they couldn’t raise a front row and would have to play uncontested scrums. Obviously the Vandals’ reputation for fiercesome scrummaging had spread! The Yorkshire RFU committee awarded a home walkover and bonus point victory to the Vandals but the situation was unsatisfactory as it had a bearing on the outcome of the championship.

So a game took place and Vandals wreaked havoc from the start with Andy Binns continuing where he left off in last week’s Harrogate match. The Otliensians defence had no answer to his rollocking drives.

Bryson followed his centre partner’s example and an explosive break led to the first try. Hamer supported well and the ebullient Burnside found Harris in space before Aaron Carrington finished the move under the posts and Jimmy Crowther converted.

Vandals were immediately back on the attack and great running and support play from Richardson, Burnside and Hamer led to a penalty which was kicked to the corner. From the ensuing driving maul Sutcliffe exploded through a gap to score. Crowther kicked the second of nine conversions in a row.

Despite being unable to exert their usual scrum dominance, the Vandals forwards were exerting their authority through dynamic drives and high quality support play.

Jowett again led by example and intricate handling led to Jimmy Crowther being put into space. The full back moved the ball wide for Binns and Gallagher to send Bryson scorching home for a fantastic try.

Gallagher was kicking superbly and the pressure was back on Otliensians when he found touch a metre from the try line. Superb pressure from Richardson in the line out meant Otliensians were unable to escape their half. A superb move off the back of the scrum led to Tommy Crowther accelerating through a gap. He found the supporting Binns and a brilliant inside pass enabled Jimmy Crowther to sprint over as Vandals opened a 28-0 lead on 28 minutes.

Scrappy play and indecision in the Vandals defence led to an impressive length of the field try from the Otliensians left wing.

This was merely a blip, however, as Vandals resumed normal service. Binns did a magnificent impression of the big boy in the school yard as he swatted aside several timorous defenders and strode over from the half way line for the final try of the half and a 35-7 lead.

Vandals were making breaks at will and Maeer went on a rampaging 40 metre run to be tackled just short.

Vandals rung the changes and Joe Greenwood was immediately into the action, combining with Burnside to cause havoc. The sniping Sutcliffe was again on hand to exploit the space created and dive over for a try.

Two minutes later Hamer and Gallagher executed another excellent move off the back of the scrum to send Jimmy Crowther through a huge gap. The fullback showed great pace to out strip the cover defence for a great try.

Gallagher continued to pin the opposition in their own half with pin point kicking. The pressure was relentless and Gallagher and Bloem linked impressively to send Jimmy Crowther over for his third try.

A rare moment of Otliensians pressure followed but a Tommy Crowther interception turned scrambling defence into delight for Vandals as he romped over from 60 metres.

Belligerent driving from Maeer, Sim and Bryson established good position and Jamie Bloem was on hand to go close. The move was halted by a high tackle on the player/coach but he took a quick tap penalty to score a wonderful opportunist try. The unbelievable then happened as Crowther missed his first kick.

Vandals’ forwards played keep ball for several minutes and McAspurn knocked his opposite winger over and then sprinted into the corner for a try. Crowther converted from the touchline and the referee’s full time whistle ended Otliensians’ humiliation.