Old Brodleians 15
ANOTHER brace of tries from skipper Mark Whitehead led YM to their 12th League victory of the season and kept his side top of the table after a muddy clash at Hipperholme.
Brodleians’ Woodhead Park pitch was like a gluepot, and for the first 20 minutes it looked like Whitehead’s side could easily come unstuck as they struggled to make any headway, despite having the advantage of playing down the slope in the first half.
The Calderdale club were clearly up for the derby challenge and after several strong drives by their forwards, it really came as no surprise when No8 Rob Jennings got the downward pressure after YM had been shoved back over their own tryline.
Danny Wood’s conversion attempt struck an upright and bounced clear, but the score served notice that Brods were not prepared to just roll over in their own mudbath.
Slowly YM began to pick up the pace – which in all honestly was pretty slow anyway – and finally got some points on the board when Gavin Stead knocked over a penalty mid-way through the half.
But it took until the 28th minute before the Yorkshire I leaders finally clicked into gear.
A superbly-timed pass from Damian Clayton sent full-back Matt Johnson charging through a gap well inside his own half, who in turn linked up with Ed Barber to then supply winger Lloyd Bentley, who beat off the cover to cross in the left corner.
Stead struck a beautiful touchline conversion and things were looking up for the visitors.
Clayton was yellow-carded, giving Wood the chance to cut the deficit to two points, but ahead of half-time, Whitehead finished off a classic catch and drive move to score wide out left, Stead adding another well-struck conversion for a 17-8 lead at the break.
Those who know the Woodhead field feared that YM might get pinned down in the left-hand corner in the second half, but it never happened as they denied Brods any worthwhile possession with which to kick.
Darren Neilly and Fabrizio Leone-Mazza came on as substitutes, before a great break from inside his own 22 by Ryder looked to have set up try number three, but having off-loaded to his skipper, Whitehead passed back outside and Bentley was tackled just short of the line.
Brods cleared that danger, but were now under the cosh as YM launched attack after attack, and when Stead made a terrific defence-splitting burst down the middle of the park, the ball was quickly worked through several pairs of hands before Sam Hodge went over in the left corner.
By now it was one-way traffic, and YM made light of charging up the slope as they extended their lead and bagged the all-important bonus point after a great piece of solo work from scrum-half Simon Wilson led to a close-range score from Josh Lumb, again converted by Stead.
And with 10 minutes to go YM were over again, this time an absolute beauty, as Bentley streaked clear up the touchline, linking with Ryder who again released the ever-present Whitehead to finish off a converted try which had even the Brodleians faithful nodding their heads in appreciation.
Right winger Michael Briggs scored a last-minute consolation for Brods, converted by Wood, but it didn’t take the gloss off what was another solid performance in difficult conditions by the YM.
YMCA: Johnson; Bentley, Ryder, Barber, Stead; Clayton, Wilson; Sellars, Hill, Ste Dyke, Bell, Robertson, Lumb, Hodge, Whitehead. Subs (all used): Neilly, Leone-Mazza, Nightingale.
Referee: Richard Smith (West Yorks).
Huddersfield RU went down 40-0 at League-leaders Stourbridge. Full report tomorrow.