OLD Otliensians coach Kris Stafford claimed in midweek that the strength in depth of his 22 would give them the edge in yesterday’s RFU Junior Vase final at Twickenham, and he was proved right.

With the Yorkshire Division Three runners-up under the cosh in the second half against Devon’s South Molton on a sun-bathed ground, on trotted Rob Lofthouse and Nick Keinhorst.

Ensians, appreciating a pitch as wide as Twickenham, had scored first-half tries from winger Connor Bateman, centre Ollie Eaves, No 8 Sam Featherstone and full back Alex Murphy, two of which man of the match Will Cooper converted, against three Callum Stone penalties to lead 24-9.

However, the Devon side hit back in the second half with tries by scrum half Zak Stoneman and No 8 Dan Smith, one of which was converted by Stone, to trail only 24-21.

Momentum seemed to be with South Molton now and Ensians desperately needed something to happen, especially as they had lost prop Dan Stevens to the sin-bin prior to Smith’s try, and it happened when Lofthouse was tackled high by replacement David Kift after a sniping run by the replacement scrum half.

“That was a game-changer,” said Cooper.

Head coach Kris Stafford, whose team were wearing shirts specifically designed to cope with the heat, said: “The tactic was to move them around as much as we could, and in the first half we really took the game to them, but we gave away too many penalties in the second half.

“Credit to South Molton for the way that they came back in the second half, but in the last ten minutes we got our momentum back.

“Now we hope to keep these players together for pre-season, make a few additions and be competitive in Yorkshire Division Two next season.”

Ensians skipper Featherstone said: “I am speechless after that experience but in the first 20 minutes we did what we wanted to do.”

It was also a memorable day for 91-year-old club president George Leach, who was part of the presentation party before kick-off, meeting both teams in the company of RFU and Wharfedale president