Bromsgrove 24, Otley 24

OLD habits die hard and yet again Bromsgrove failed to get across the finishing line in a game that they should have comfortably won.

The Boars had battled back from 12-0 down to powered into a 24-12 lead but their inability to hold on for the win came back to haunt them as they were pegged back.

But head coach Ross Baxter can take the positives as his side outplayed their fourth-placed opponents for long periods of the game.

He said: “Overall I was quite pleased with the performance.

“Otley have the best wingers in the league and they scored two well-taken tries to go 12-0 ahead but we then scored 24 unanswered points.

“Unfortunately we have a habit of losing the lead and it’s costing us.

“We were pegged back in the final 15 minutes and one missed tackle in 50 allowed them to score and get back into the game.

“A long ball caught us out and once their winger to free it was going to be hard to stop him.”

Despite a bright start, Otley powered ahead with tries for James Twomey and Ollie Cicognini, with William Magie kicking one conversion.

But and full back Ollie Bache split the visitors defence to put Jack Wardle in for a try.

Fly half Jon Critchlow added the extras before slotting over a penalty moments later to close the gap to 12-10.

The second half began in similar fashion with Bromsgrove monopolising possession and back row forwards Chris McGregor, Phil Horton and Dave Hughes looking threatening and carrying the ball to the opposition at every opportunity A second try followed when Wardle ran a superb line to carve open the visitors defence and put Hughes over under the posts.

Critchlow duly converted and moments later Wardle popped up again to kick ahead a loose ball and win the race for the touchdown.

Critchlow added the extras and the game looked safe with only 15 minutes remaining.

However, an injury to prop Steve Blackburn and a harsh yellow card for flanker McGregor disrupted the home side and Otley began to force their way back into the game.

A try in the corner by prop forward Ben Steele, superbly converted from the touchline by Magie, put them back in touch and when Warren Oliver was caught in possession on the half way line with only a minute of the game left, Twomey pounced on the loose ball and sprinted over to bring the visitors level.

Bromsgrove now face a stiff test at league leaders Stourbridge on Saturday (3pm ko).

With the Black Country side winning all of their matches, Baxter admits that the trip to Stourton Park is not as important as matches against Leicester Lions or Darlington.

He said: “This is probably or least important match of the season, we’ve got to judge ourselves how we perform against the 15 other teams in the league and not Stourbridge.

“They have picked up five points for every game, so it would take everything going in our favour to win this game.

“We want to build on on performance against Otley but this will be a very difficult game."