Doncaster 24 Otley 12

OTLEY paid their first visit to Castle Park in search of one of two wins vital to ensure their safety in National One if the plan to extend the division to 14 clubs does not come to fruition.

It should have been an enthralling game but sadly it demonstrated why both teams are struggling. Having won 24-16 at Cross Green the Otley side, as perplexed and disappointed as their supporters at losing to London Welsh, were confident that they would recapture the form shown against Newbury.

Sadly without playmaker Simon Binns they once again looked hesitant in attack and completely bemused in defence and even more surprisingly failed to use their most potent weapon, the driving maul, with any regularity.

Once again the back line had to be re-constructed with Ian Shuttleworth, Andy Brown and Paul Mooney joining Binns on the injured list and a heavily strapped Rob Whatmuff making a hasty return at centre which lasted 64th minutes, Chris Hyndman returned at fly-half and Robin Kitching moved to the wing allowing Owen Edwards to make his first start at full-back.

As a variation to their destructive habit of conceding a try in the last minute Otley gifted their hosts seven points within 46 seconds when they failed to clear the kick-off and let centre John Cannon force his way through four attempts to bring him down, and scoring near the posts. Veteran fly-half Rob Liley added the conversion.

They were straight back when Otley conceded a penalty at the re-start but Otley survived before a direct kick into touch from Dave Scully gave the Dons a line-out and only an interception by Waisale Sovatabua prevented a score.

It was ten minutes before Otley crossed half-way, Kitching and Whatmuff combining to break through. Otley started to boss the scrums and laid seige to the home line. At a scrum under the posts Otley were strangely adjudged responsible for a series of collapses and the position was lost. A later drive on the line saw Scully slip a pass to Mark Luffman who went over with infinite style.

Doncaster were now being contained and with the wind advantage to come prospects looked promising until a crooked throw-in put them on the back foot and Liley was presented with a simple penalty when the defence moved up too quickly.

From the re-start the home side gained a line-out and Liley strolled past his marker to send Cannon in, the fly-half converting.

The second-half was a comedy of errors. A Liley penalty hit an upright and Michael Wood grabbed the ball to touch down, Liley's conversion virtually sealing victory.

Otley huffed and puffed but never regained their composure but managed to deprive Doncaster of a bonus point. Four minutes into added time Kyle Dench was first to a chip through by Hyndman, Kitching converting.

l Otley's next game is at home to Plymouth Albion on March 11.