Injury-ravaged Old Brodleians limped to the sanctuary of the Christmas break with a 14-3 home defeat to North Ribblesdale in Yorkshire One.
The visitors from Settle were completing a double, having won 18-12 at home in the second game of the season, but they remain three spots below the sixth-placed Woodhead men.
Brods can only field two sides at the moment and the lack of key forwards in particular means they are struggling to grind out good results, as they did in the first three months of the season.
Coach John Cole was happy with his side’s first half efforts. They turned round to play with the slope and a fairly strong wind trailing only 7-0.
When Danny Wood kicked a penalty to get their scoring under way eight minutes after the break it looked anyone’s game.
However, an injury to the influential Rob Jennings on the hour mark, followed four minutes later by a second converted try for the visitors, killed the game.
North Ribblesdale have a reputation for being strong up front and while that alone wasn’t enough when they visited Heath a fortnight earlier, their scrum was dominant against Brods.
With the elements in their favour, Ribb kept Brods pinned in their own half for the entire opening 16 minutes.
An offside decision, after visiting stand off Steve Moon had chipped to the flank, brought relief for Brods, who bravely dug in.
Prop Loma Kivalua’s indiscipline eventually cost the home side. Lucky to escape a card when swinging a punch, he picked up a yellow shortly after as Ribb’s forwards drove for the line.
A key man down, Brods were powerless to prevent the next surge and No 8 Mick Carr got the touch down and Moon added the easy conversion.
Danny Cole’s restart got the ball over the half-way line for the first time and consistently impressive Kiwi centre Sam Deacon and Jennings combined as Brods punctured the visitors’ defence for the first time.
Both sides then had an escape. Ribb knocked on close to the Brods line after hacking the ball ahead but Brods might have had a try of their own when, from a James Waddington turnover, Josh Allen’s floated long pass on half-way which put Matty Hoyle in the clear was ruled forward.
Back came Ribb, pressing the home line, but they were guilty of a couple of knock-ons and then feeding the scrum.
Brods not only survived further damage but produced an encouraging finish to the half. Mounting strong pressure in the Ribb 22, the ball twice went to ground with a try looking on the cards.
Ribb’s forwards provided more of the same in the early stages of the second half, controlling possession.
However, Allen’s sniping run and kick and Jennings’ touchline tackle on a Ribb winger helped set up the position for Wood’s 40 metre penalty on 48 minutes.
Deacon, Kristian Sharples, Wood and Eddie Carter combined in a rare flowing Brods attack but Ribb’s scrambling defence was good.
Wood missed a chance to narrow the gap to a single point with a penalty on the 22, mid-way out to the touchline, on 56 minutes before the crucial blows were struck.
No 8 Jennings appeared to twist his knee in a ruck near half-way and he had barely left the field before a visiting centre broke down the middle and open side flanker Nathan Dakin supported well to go under the posts. Moon converted.
Brods didn’t look like getting back into it. Their one good kick from hand during the game - Wood’s long penalty to touch on the 22 - led to them being held up close to the Ribb line but that was the only occasion on which they threatened to claim a losing bonus point in the final 15 minutes.