Cutsyke Raiders 28 : Outlaws 24

Nottingham Outlaws travelled up to Castleford to play Cutsyke Raiders on Saturday with no fewer than seven changes to the side that lost their opening match against Hull Wyke a fortnight ago. However, despite the re-shuffle the Outlaws gave a much-improved performance, pushing their hosts all the way before agonisingly losing out by one score at 28-24.

The Outlaws kicked off down the slope on a heavy pitch with a new halfback pairing of Wigglesworth and Squires whilst recent signing Abe Sua came back into the second row and Gareth Whitfield slotting in at fullback. The bench also sported a few changes including with Tom Evans and Rob Hart both in on debut.
With standing water across many areas of the pitch it was clearly a case of which side could handle the conditions the better and it was the Outlaws who held the ascendancy for most of the first stanza.
Indeed, they opened the scoring with only a couple of minutes on the clock when some good approach work by Ward and Sua ended up with powerful prop Sam Andrews crashing over from short range despite the attention of three defenders. Whitfield added the extras from bang in front as the Outlaws took an early 6-0 lead.
Unfortunately the lead didn’t last long and the home side equalised five minutes later with a well worked try.
Despite the Outlaws holding the upper hand they couldn’t get the score they deserved, with two try’s chalked off by the referee for forward passes that could have seen the Outlaws pull away.
Despite the disappointment the Outlaws kept plugging away and once again they took a deserved lead with the best try of the half. The move started from a scrum as Squires fed Coryn Ward on the charge and he slipped the ball to Wigglesworth who promptly notched his first try for the club converted by Whitfield as Outlaws led 12-6.
Indeed it should have been more but again another Outlaws try was chalked off for a forward pass and then to make matters worse, they conceded a try on the half time hooter as Cutsyke levelled the scores despite the Outlaws dominating much of the first half.
The second half saw the home side start strongly down the slope and three penalties conceded in a row meant the Outlaws were well and truly on the back foot and despite holding out for almost twenty minutes their defence finally cracked with two quick-fire trys seeing the Outlaws two scores adrift at 22-12.
With twenty-five second half minutes played the Outlaws had hardly had any field position or possession with much of the problems of their own making due to a series of knock-ons and dropped balls gifting the ball to their opponents.
As the match entered the last fifteen minutes the Outlaws once again raised their game and a great run by Butler saw him reach the Cutsyke red zone and on the next play Whittle spotted the gap and used his trademark show and go to scorch through for a fine try. Whitfield again converted from bang in front and it was game on again at 22-18 with eight-minute left on the clock.
Despite hauling themselves back into the game the Outlaws continued to cough up too much ball, knocking on at the first tackle again and within three plays the home side stretched their lead back to two scores at 28-18.
With three minutes left to play Haz Ashby broke through the home line on halfway and went on a mazy fifty metre foot race, turning the full back inside and out before scoring in the corner, Whitfield converted superbly to peg the home lead back to 28-24.
With the clock ticking down, the Outlaws went looking for the score that would give them a much needed win but despite some close calls they couldn’t get over the whitewash and they eventually ran out of time.
As the rather muddy squad congregated after the game the spirit remained high in the camp as this young team continues to gel and improve with each performance, Indeed there were a few players in with a shout for the man of the match award but the bubbly deservedly went to Clark Squires who had a great game on attack and defence in a welcome return for the experienced stand-off.