Nottingham Outlaws’ Forty20 Cup run is over after they suffered a comprehensive 42-0 defeat against a well drilled Bramley outfit in West Yorkshire on Saturday. Despite being under the cosh for most of the game the Outlaws battled for the full eighty minutes but they lacked the cutting edge to have any real impact on the scoreline
The Outlaws took to the field with a much changed team that had done so well against Queensbury two weeks ago. Indeed the line up included no fewer than 12 changes to the squad as the coaching staff once again used the match as an opportunity to try out some new combinations including no fewer than five debutants with many of the remainder having a handful of caps between them!
The Outlaws knew what they were in for in the opening exchanges as an enthusiastic home side piled forward to hammer away at the Outlaws line from the get-go. Indeed the opening ten minutes were played almost exclusively in the Outlaws twenty metre zone as the home side looked to make the first score, helped by a number of Outlaws mistakes as they repeatedly dropped the ball in the face of some heavy home gang tackles.
Somehow the Outlaws had managed to keep the home team scoreless after 15 minutes of constant attrition with some excellent defence led by captain Oliver Dale who was soon into double figures on the tackle count! Having held out under some terrific home pressure the Outlaws broke up field and managed to ask a few questions of the home side. However a couple of good forays by Clarke Squires and Kyle Widnall came close but they couldn’t find a way through the home defence.
Despite the temporary relief the Outlaws soon found themselves once again on the back foot and this time they had no answer as a tiring defence saw Bramley register three quick fire trys to take a firm grip on the game as Tom Langton, Kieron Hudson and Brooke Flynn all registered a try apiece.
Indeed it could of been worse but on three occasions the Outlaws managed to hold up a Bramley attacker over the line preventing further scores as the Outlaws went into the break only 12-0 down despite virtually the whole half being played in and around their forty metre zone.
The half time talk from the coaching staff was focussed on the need for composure especially with ball in hand as on too many occasions the Outlaws had put themselves under too much pressure in their own half by trying to move the ball in too much traffic. However the half time message didn’t quite get the response it needed as the Outlaws lost the ball on only the second tackle after the re-start and from the resulting set Keith Hudson bagged his second as the Outlaws went 16-0 down with only two second half minutes played.
The early Bramley score seemed to knock the Outlaws confidence. They had hoped to use the slope on the pitch to their favour in the second half but for the next twenty minutes the Outlaws hardly touched the ball and worse still, their defence began to leak points at an alarming rate. Indeed all of the good defensive work done in the first half seemed to evaporate as the home side began to make huge advances down the pitch seemingly every time they touched the ball.
With a monopoly on possession and field position the home side began to run riot as Keiron Hudson completed his hat trick Tom Langton bagged a brace as did Dan Bariani. When Tom White grabbed a home try with fifteen minutes to play the Outlaws were really struggling and at 42-0 in arrears it seemed only a matter of time before the home side registered their half century.
With fifteen to play there was a bit if an altercation at a play the ball that saw Bramley reduced to twelve men. The short flare up seemed to put some fire in the belly of the Outlaws who began to throw some bodies back into the tackle and for the remainder of the game they more than held their own. Indeed they almost scored a couple of late trys as on two occasions Adam Cunliffe almost broke through only to be hauled down just short. However it was not to be and the referee brought proceedings to a close with the final whistle and with it came the end of the Outlaws cup campaign
After the game coach Strachan was quick to point out that the defeat was of minor importance with the league campaign now less than two weeks away, commenting “We were second best today but we’ll learn from it and come back stronger. Our pack had a lot of inexperience and the way we’re looking to play the game we need a bit more fluency and consistency to be competitive. Captain Oliver Dale was standout for us and was my man of the match, his commitment and work rate set a great example to the rest of us. As a competition the 40-20 cup has given us three good run outs so it’s been really useful”
Indeed the enthusiastic coach was already planning ahead to next weeks rugby league activities adding “whilst the league campaign is two weeks away there’s still plenty of rugby to look forward to this week. On behalf of the club I’d like to wish our friends at Nottingham Trent Rugby League and Uni of Nottingham Rugby League good luck in their varsity match this Thursday. After that on Sunday we’ve got our inaugural masters fixture at home to New Ravens which is a real landmark for the club”