With strong echoes of a year ago, a makeshift Saracens squad, who only came together on the day and hampered by late call ups to the 1st team and other withdrawals played with heart and flair to again reach the semi-finals of this enjoyable tournament. Being able to muster just 13 players, when allowed 15, limited their opportunities to rest players and cost them dear in the end. Three remained from last year’s squad and worked well with some new faces.
Once again Otley lost to the eventual winners from Baildon, in a tight contest disrupted and delayed by a spinal injury to Tom Crane from the opposition pack. We understand he is recovering and we wish him well. Otley were looking tired by this stage and were down to 10 fit players including two forwards playing in the backs, but battled gamely to lose by just 10 points to nil, the first time they had been denied a score all afternoon.
On the way to the semi final they had won their first three games and lost only narrowly to a strong host side by 21-22, conceding two late tries. This was particularly disappointing after they had come back well from an early try to lead 21-5.
In earlier pool matches they had beaten Wetherby 19-5, Harrogate 22-5, and Moortown 17-10. All the opposition offered different challenges and the Saracens showed real improvement each time. The Otley forwards maintained a commendable work-rate epitomised by newcomer Tom Woods and last season’s front row stalwart, Tim Molloy
who more than once surprised opponents with his speed off the mark. In the backs, Alex Schofield
was a solid fulcrum and initiator of much good play, supported well by Tom Barnes and David Hastie who both ran strongly and picked good lines of attack. The pick of the performances came from one of last year’s junior Colts, scrum half James Matthews
, who varied his game well, showing pluck, enthusiasm and skill to launch many telling attacks and constantly harried his opposite numbers.
Nine players contributed to the score sheet, with Tom Barnes, Rob Chandler, James Matthews
, and Danny Secker
all scoring two, and one each for Simon Baker
, Ed Goodwill
, David Hastie, Alex Schofield
, and Tom Woods. Conversions were added by Hastie (4) and Schofield (3).
Otley Saracens: Baker, Barnes, Chandler, Fisher, Goodwill, Hastie, Matthews C., Matthews J., Molloy, Ouassine, Schofield, Secker, Woods.