Old Brodleians took the maximum five points but absolutely no satisfaction from a laboured, error-strewn display in a 22-7 home win over North Ribblesdale today.
The second-placed side in Yorkshire One looked anything but promotion contenders against next-to-bottom opponents who were reeling from a 78-12 defeat at Hullensians last Saturday.
It wasn’t until seven minutes from time that replacement back Anton Gaughan scored Brods fourth and bonus-point try, the hosts having spent much of the second half defending against toothless opposition.
Coach Matt Smith, with his arm in a sling after sustaining a shoulder injury playing for Leeds Carnegie on Friday evening, seemed more wounded by the lack of quality in the Woodhead side’s attacking play.
“The amount of unforced errors was unacceptable,” he said.
“There was a massive lack of basic skills apparent from the first minute when we had a two-on-one and failed to score.”
On a calm, grey afternoon, Zak Thompson’s woeful pass to the unmarked Michael Briggs wide on Brods’ left set the tone for the home side’s display.
The Halifax side were in charge down the slope, aided by scrum superiority, but a plethora of knock-ons stifled their progress.
They still managed to take a ninth-minute lead when centre Liam Scott broke through the Dalesmen’s flimsy midfield defence and Briggs crossed for a try Ollie Akroyd was unable to convert.
Winger Jasper Ayrton had a good run and Scott was halted in front of the posts but the standard of lineout play from both sides was poor.
Brods used their forward strength to make ground via the maul. Ribb lost flanker Richard Wood to the sin-bin and when they illegally halted Brods’ advancing scrum close to their line, the exchange referee from the London area awarded a penalty try.
Akroyd’s easy kick made it 12-0 after 26 minutes but he could not convert from wide out after winger Thompson had stormed down the left touchline, battering one opponent out of the way before touching down in the corner on 31 minutes.
It remained 17-0 up to half time, Ribb advancing into the home 22 on a couple of occasions, only to be let down by their set piece.
Home hooker Joe Fee earned a yellow card for a late tackle as Ribb raided down the left on 42 minutes and that helped the visitors maintain their momentum.
However, the Settle side didn’t have the strength, speed or finesse to make their pressure tell.
Brods lost Scott to a suspected cruciate ligement injury and it wasn’t until the start of the final quarter that they threatened again, making ground through Briggs, Ayrton and Dom Georgiou.
They eventually strung half a dozen passes together to give Gaughan a routine finish wide on the left.
However, Ribb gave themselves a little lift for what promises to be a tough time ahead when centre Jonny Moore scrambled over at the side of the posts with four minutes left and stand off Mick Thwaite converted.
The game finished on an appropriate note for Brods as they looked to exploit space on the right in an advanced position, only for Briggs’ pass to fall well short of its intended recipient.