On a crisp autumn afternoon, Burley made the short trip to local rivals Bramley Phoenix for this important league game. It seemed the whole of Yorkshire had written off the maroons in this encounter and a fiery and vocal partisan crowd took to the sidelines as the teams lined for kick off.
It was suggested by some that the host's custom of charging £2 to watch a Yorkshire 3 match is a little steep, but the Burley Barmy Army were not to be dissapointed and gained full value for money watching the maroons completely dominate their high-flying opponents (it was suggested by certain committee members that this display may even have been worth £2.50 to watch).
The game started with Burley turning over Bramley possession at the ruck in midfield. One of the lumbersome Bramley forwards attempted to kill the ball and from the resulting penalty Burley set up for a lineout just outside the Bramley 22. A catch and drive move allowed another lumpy Bramley froward to infringe (it was becoming apparent that subtlety wasn't a strength of the home side) and Burley kicked another penalty into the corner. This time the ball was popped from the top of the lineout from Richard Christie
into the grateful arms of the oncoming James Palfery-Smith who powered over the line to open the scoring. Conversion kicked by Chris Slater and Burley led 7-0.
Bramley looked to get themselves back into the game with strong runs from their openside flanker and "chunky" centre, but Burley never looked like letting the home side make a clean break. Another Bramley infringement allowed fly-half Tim Roberts
to kick for a lineout midfield on the left. Burley shortened the line and, from the top, Richard Cuthbert
and Richard Chrisie combined to make a break up the middle. Quick recycled ball allowed the back line to spring into action and Roberts, Bisson, Bissett and Chris Slater put the ball through the hands to allow flying winger John HotPot Thistlethwaite to score in the right corner. Excellent conversion kicked by Slater and Burley now led 14-0.
There was a slight sour moment after the score as one of the Bramley backs punched ageing centre Andy Bissett well off the ball. Bissett subsequently had to leave the field with vision problems.
With a slight shuffle in the backs, Burley looked to continue the dominance in "rugby matters" and set to work pushing Bramley back into their half. A lineout catch and drive was eventually scored by Tom Barnes
after excellent driving from Messrs Simon "Porridge" Pantelli, Matthew "Yogi" Keoghan and Richard "Fit Mum" Cuthbert. Conversion missed. 19-0 to Burley.
Shortly after the restart Bramley made a sole break into the Burley 22 but stellar defence from Slater, HotPot and the covering Pantelli, Cuthbert and Palfery-Smith managed to turn the ball over and clear the lines.
Temper frayed in the Bramley ranks and, by now, the cheap shots were coming thick and fast. However Burley stuck to the task and concentrated on their rugby. Another midfield lineout move released Richard Christie
who motored through flailing (high) Bramley tackles. Christie beat the struggling full-back (who may as well have been stood in treacle - see Mike Ward
try later) to score Burleys 4th try, securing the bonus point inside of half an hour. Conversion missed.
Bramley attempted to gain some possession but anaemic pick and go moves from the ruck were quelled and Burley went into half time leading 24-0.
The half time team talk by Grandpa Lemming focused on the need to properly kill the game off in the opening exchanges in the 2nd half. Unfortunately the next score was to come from the home team.
Several penalties allowed Bramley field position and from a quick tap the big centre (Sloth from Goonies?) waltzed through under the posts untouched. 24-7.
From the restart Burley gathered and drove up the middle. Bramley again infringed at the ruck and full back Chris Slater extended the Burley lead with a penalty. 27-7.
The next passage of play is one that will live long in the memory of the Burley faithful (but one that several Bramley players will hope to put behind them rather quickly). The Bramley kick off wass gathered by replacement back row (and general tough guy) "Iron" Mike Ward
. Mike managed to hand of the entire Bramley pack and set off on a gentle trot towards the opposition half. The Bramley winger quickly caught up the Mike but then fell over rather than take on the big man. By now Mike was up to full speed, but even so his support had to check themselves so as to not overun their Seasider team-mate. The full back, waiting to make the tackle on Mike, apparently fainted at the prospect of tackling such a man mountain and Mike skipped past him in a bit of a gay fashion. The final 20 metres saw Mr Ward running through a combinationj of treacle, custard and quick-sand but eventually Mike crossed the line for Burley's fifth (and game clinching) try. Conversion missed. 32-7 to Burley.
The rest of the game ebbed and flowed. Tempers flaired on occasion, with one of the Bramley players carded for "excessive testicle abuse" on Yogi (an ex Bramley player).
Overall this was an outstanding and spirited display from a Burley team on the up. Our thanks go to our hosts, the excellent referee (on exchange from London) as well as the Burley faithful.
Next week sees Burley host Halifax Vandals. Training this week as ususal, Tuesday and Thursday from 1830.