Otley 47 Blackheath 0

By Oscar the Otter - April 20 2008
Otley 47 Blackheath 0 Otley secured an immediate return to National One with an emphatic victory at home to 4th placed Blackheath which included a club record 27 point haul from the prolific Robin Kitching. Max Lewis also featured prominently with a brace of tries in an excellent team performance that brimmed with passion and quality.

A crowd in excess of 1,000 greeted the league leaders with a deserving roar as Otley skipper Ian Shuttleworth led his team onto Cross Green for the final home match of the current campaign.

Playing into the wind in the first half, Otley were forced to demonstrate all their best defensive qualities as the visitors camped in the Otley '22 for much of the opening quarter.

Blackheath full-back Frankie Neale missed with an early penalty attempt before Otley's Robin Kitching gave his side an early 3-0 lead with a well crafted strike into the wind.

Blackheath's kickers used the wind to pen Otley back with their forwards reluctant to release the ball to the backs as they launched several driving mauls from attacking line-outs. Time and again however, Otley's streetwise forward pack denied the opposition even after the considerable strength of Richard Snowball was temporarily lost due to a yellow card.

Blackheath finally looked to have barged over for a try but the referee judged that the ball had not been grounded properly and Otley used the opportunity to finally work away from their line.

Having soaked up the early pressure, it was Otley's turn to hammer at the visitors line and they took their opportunity with No.8 Max Lewis crashing over. Kitching converted and Otley led 10-0 after 25 minutes.

With Blackheath starting to look demoralised, Otley struck again with a superb individual try from Kitching. A wide pass found the left winger in space 30 metres out and he fended off a Blackheath attempted tackle to go in for his 1st try of the afternoon. He was narrowly wide with the difficult conversion but Otley took a 15-0 lead into the interval with the prospect of playing with the wind in the 2nd half.

Otley increased their lead with 2 further penalties from Kitching to make it 21-0 before going for the kill and the crucial bonus point. Powerful forward carries sapped the strength of the Blackheath pack and Otley scored their 3rd try from a line-out catch & drive. As the Otley juggernaut rumbled towards the line, Dan Hyde broke away to smash through 2 attempted tacklers and score. Kitching added the extras and Otley led 28-0 after 55 minutes.

Otley's 4th 'bonus point' try was arguably the best of the match. Centre Rob Whatmuff plunged into midfield before offloading a neat inside pass to supporting gazelle Xavier Andre who raced in from 30 metres out to score under the posts. Kitching converted and Otley led 35-0.

Max Lewis used his considerable physical presence to blast over for his 2nd try of the match after 70 minutes and Kitching once again converted to make it 42-0 to a rampant Otley who were not yet finished.

In ruthless style, Otley continued to hunt for points and replacement centre Kyle Dench set Kitching free with a great wide ball. Despite numerous ladders in the tough South African's tights, Kitching was able to pick up steam and plough through the last Blackheath defender to score his 2nd try of the afternoon and break the club record for the most individual points in a league match.

The final whistle sounded immediately after the conversion attempt to spark celebrations at achieving promotion back to National One at the first attempt - a brilliant achievement by all concerned and Otley now look to cap things off by securing the National Two title next weekend at Waterloo.

A great feeling in the clubhouse at the after-match party was capped off with Club President Paul Whatmuff presenting a deserving Peter Kelley with the "Clubman of the Year" award. Otley head "honcho" Peter Clegg then gave his thanks to everybody for their efforts before presenting Robin Kitching with the "Young Player of the Year" while a unanimous decision saw the "Players' Player of the Year" award go to Richard Snowball who has been simply immense in his first season for the club.

...so to Waterloo!

Otley: Shuttleworth (capt); Smith, Whatmuff (Dench 65), Mooney, Kitching; Monks, Easterby; Trethewey (Turner 65), Sayers (Wederall 50-55), Fullman (Wederall 60); Snowball, Parr; Stockdale, Hyde (Andre 65), Lewis

Blackheath: Neale, Olima, Moan, Staten, Daley, Vaughan, Ibrahim, Legg, Knight, Brett, Bason (capt), Dewale, Pike, Allen, Aseme

Referee: Richard Draper (RFU)

MATCH STATISTICS

Otley 47

Tries: Kitching (2), Lewis (2), Hyde, Andre

Cons: Kitching

Pens: Kitching (3)

Blackheath 0

Click here for photos of the match courtesy of Paul Barrett

Click here for individual league records