Otley Squeeze Past Stubborn Stourbridge

ickledot's first visit of the season to Otley Rugby Club his last one being a feisty encounter with neighbours Harrogate. In addition to sprucing up their ground and facilities, the team has generally fared well on the field, occupying a comfortable mid-table position before today's fixture. While a number of replacements had been made in the squad since last season, there was still a nucleus of familiar faces from previous campaigns. Although there had been a hard overnight frost throughout the county the ground was soft. The winter sun shone brightly in a clear sky.

Opponents Stourbridge had already crossed the forty league points barrier, earning them a top four position. So, it was going to be a tough afternoon. The form book seemed set to be thrown out of the window early on though as Otley broke down the left and ran over close by the corner flag. The try was converted and the home side were seven points to the good.

Further attacks were scarce during the rest of the half as Stourbridge dug in and set about evening the scores. Otley defended well but just as it seemed they might not concede in the first forty, the visitors broke through with their own converted score.

Much of the second half was as attritional as the first. Otley began well with a number of forays forward but as these petered out Stourbridge went on the offensive themselves. For a moment it seemed that they'd pierced the home defence but their effort was discounted and Otley breathed once more.

Indeed, in their relief they strung a number of passes together, fed through to the right once more and former Ilkley winger Paul Petchey (quite an honour to already have my pic on his Twitter feed!)ran in a second try under the posts. The conversion gave a score of 14-7.

The rest of the game was a nail biter as Stourbridge laid siege to the Otley line. To their frustration yet another score was discounted. For the final minutes the visitors mounted attack after attack but this time they didn't break through and Otley survived. 

So, not a classic but most exciting nevertheless. As usual, you can see pictures from the game over on Flickr.