TOM SENIOR had a great game and scored a fine individual try, but Underbank Rangers suffered the agony of a 20-18 Conference National defeat at Bramley Buffaloes.
Captain Daz Hawkyard and Matt Lodge were missing for Underbank, but they still showed they are a force to be reckoned with and could easily have won this game.
Just before the end, Bramley overturned possession just 10 metres from their own line and, on Underbank’s next play, they knocked-on when it looked like they had the momentum to score.
Underbank dominated the first half, but the game had a scrappy start as both teams turned over cheap possession.
Only a great cover tackle by Lee St Hilaire prevented Aidy Manley scoring for Bramley, but it was Underbank who looked the more threatening, with Will Midgley tackled in the in-goal area.
It was no surprise when they took the lead on 17 minutes after some slick handling – Shaun Mitchell scoring midway between the posts and the corner flag for a deserved try which Chris Thorley goaled.
Just as it looked like a scoreless first half for the Buffaloes, Graham Harrison took a quick tap penalty right on the Underbank line and scored an opportunist try. Shaun Flynn added the conversion to make it 6-6 at half-time.
Underbank started the second half with tremendous pressure on the home defence, forcing three sets of six, but they turned down an easy two points from a penalty and the decision backfired.
Chris Gardner took advantage on the break before off-loading to Simon Speight, who crossed for a splendid try on 49 minutes, Flynn again converting.
From the kick-off the Buffaloes had four good drives from their forwards, followed by a beautifully weighted chip over the top by Jon Nicholls, and Flynn won the race for the ball to score.
On 55 minutes Flynn kicked a penalty to ease Bramley to an 18-6 lead and Underbank must have wondered how that could have happened!
To their credit the visitors responded and lively hooker Joe Worthington crashed over on 59 minutes and Thorley converted.
On 67 minutes Underbank added another try when centre Senior, filling in at loose forward, ran around 90 metres from a scrum to score by the posts.
A desperate last-ditch tackle by Flynn was not enough to halt him, and Thorley again converted to level.
With 13 minutes to go the game was finely balanced, but neither team seemed to have enough composure to build pressure and take their opportunities.
On 72 minutes Underbank were penalised under their posts and Flynn added the two points to make it 20-18, but the Buffaloes continued to hand over cheap possession and let Underbank back into the game. Rangers, however, could not capitalise.
Underbank twice won possession and then lost it in the final minute, having to settle for one bonus point when they must have felt the three were there for the taking.
Thorley, Senior and St Hilaire all excelled for the Holmfirth side.
Underbank: Chris Thorley, Will Midgley, Lee St Hilaire, Shaun Mitchell, Nick Bellas, Neil Barrett, Adam Browne, Dave Valentine, Joe Worthington, Richard Lofthouse, Joe Flaherty, Gary Keegan, Tom Senior. Subs (all used): Sam McCluskey, Richard Aka, Napoleono Vinaka, James O’Brien.