ickledot's first rugby of 2016 came on a day when the mild (but wet) weather of early January gave way to a cold blast which would bring snow to the high Pennines later. Otley was the venue, where the home club hosted Huddersfield.
It was almost exactly a year since ickledot had last visited Otley, to see their epic encounter with another Yorkshire side, Harrogate. This ended up being a favourite game of 2015 as extremely muddy conditions yielded a crop of memorable photographs, one of them gracing the cover or ickledot's little book, Rugby Union Yorkshire 2015. For the game against Huddersfield, conditions were marginally better. On entering the ground, most noticeable was the lack of a covering at one end. The roof had been condemned as unsafe a while ago and now it's gone. A great improvement in ickledot's humble opinion.
Although keenly fought, it has to be said this was not a classic encounter, certainly not for lovers of open running rugby. It's interesting that, apart from Otley's second try from scrum-half Stephen Depledge, there was hardly a phase of sustained running with the ball throughout the game and the backs were largely left to concentrate on keeping warm. That's what the photographs show anyway.
However, if you enjoy watching forwards in full flow, this was a game for you. They pushed over a couple of tries for Otley in the first half and were used extensively through the second.
Somewhat overwhelmed early on, Huddersfield emerged stronger in the second half and came back to within a score of the home side. For a while the pressure was on for Otley but this was ultimately relieved with a penalty late on. Final score was 20-10. You can see a few more pictures from the game here.
On Sunday it was back on the Yorkshire trail as the U20s continued the build up to their first match, against Northumberland, at the beginning of February. This was held at the home of Pontefract Rugby Club. It was a good session in bright but cold conditions and hopes are high for the coming season.
Have a great week.