Nottingham Outlaws season finally got off the mark on Saturday when off the back of a magnificent defensive display the Outlaws posted a gritty 12-10 victory at Hull Wyke on Saturday.
In fact the Outlaws lead throughout the game only for the home side to draw level with five minutes to play. However a penalty conversion by Gaz Whitfield in the dying minutes of the game saw the Outlaws nudge ahead and ultimately hold out for their first win of the season.
The Outlaws went into the game with no fewer than nine changes to the squad that just lost out at Cutsyke last time out with Louis O’Connor coming into the three quarters and a new halfback pairing of Tom Wigglesworth and Harry Walton running the show alongside Alex Whittle.
There were changes in the pack too as Oli Hopkins came in on debut with a new look bench including Joe Raine, Tyler Beardsley, Liam Heaney and Stew Readhead.
The Outlaws took the game to the home team right from the get-go with some big charges by Sua and Hopkins making deep inroads into the Wyke defence so it came as no surprise when the Outlaws struck first blood on the sixth minute with Whittle feeding captain Coryn Ward who broke through a gap to score a great short range effort.
With 25 minutes played the Outlaws extended their lead when a towering kick by Clark Squires was allowed to bounce awkwardly and it was plucked out of the air by Louis O’Connor and the young speedster shot through the line for a fine effort, his first for the club.
Gaz Whitfield converted from the touchline as the Outlaws increased the gap to 10-0.
At this point the Outlaws scrambling defence had nullified everything that the home side could muster on attack but with five minutes to the break the Hull Wyke attack finally clicked into gear and they narrowed the deficit to 6-10 just before the half time hooter sounded.
The second half started brightly for the Outlaws with the Nottingham forwards once again gaining the upper hand with Tom Wigglesworth returning to the fray after some prolonged treatment following an ankle injury and they should have extended their lead but some over-elaborate handling let them down when a cool head might have paid dividends.
Having failed to put the game to bed it looked like it was going to be another frustrating day at the office when the home side finally capitalised on some weak Outlaws defending to level the scores at 10-10 with five minutes left on the clock. Crucially however, the conversion attempt went wide to keep the two teams on level points with barely five minutes left to play.
As the clock ticked down an increasingly rattled home side put in a late tackle leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty which sharpshooter Gaz Whitfield coolly slotted over from thirty metres out to put the Outlaws ahead at 12-10 with the game once again swinging in the Outlaws favour.
The Outlaws players never make it easy for the travelling supporters, making a hash of the restart to hand possession to the home team to put themselves under extreme pressure for the remaining two minutes of the game but thankfully they held out for a much needed 12-10 victory.
As the players and supporters celebrated there were plenty of names going into the hat for man for the match bubbly however there was one clear winner, full back Gaz Whitfield who was an absolute rock on defence as well as attack and of course showed nerves of steel whilst slotting over the match winning kick.
Next weeks fixture at Keighley Albion has now been rearranged which means that the Outlaws have a week off before they travel to Ossett Trinity for the first time in the club’s history.