Robson injury mars Heath win

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The league tables at the end of the season are likely to suggest that Old Brodleians are Calderdale’s top rugby union team.

Heath would beg to differ, however, after completing a Yorkshire One double over their Hipperholme rivals in another injury-blighted derby yesterday.

The North Dean men’s scrummaging strength propelled them to a deserved 29-22 success but their celebrations at the final whistle were muted with their stand off James Robson on his way to hospital by ambulance.

The first meeting between the clubs this season, at North Dean in November, was abandoned when Brods full back Dom Georgiou damaged a vertebrae in his neck at the end of the first half.

Heath, who had been trailing in the first game, won the replay 16-14 with a last-gasp Ezra Hinchliffe drop goal on January 21.

It was feared that Robson had suffered a similar injury to Georgiou yesterday, nine minutes from the end and again in accidental circumstances.

This time NHS staff were quickly on the scene and the game was completed after a 50 minute delay.

The news from hospital last night was also more positive with aarly indications suggesting Robson had not fractured anything.

Brods looked almost certain to win when they built a 22-7 lead up the slope but Heath narrowed the gap with a crucial converted try just before half time and dominated territory and possession in the second half.

On a grey, still afternoon, Brods drew first blood with a seventh minute penalty from skipper Ollie Akroyd after a driving maul had taken the hosts close to the visitors’ line.

Heath swept in front six minutes later when prop Chris Moore broke through in midfield and shrugged off a tackler to go in at the side of the posts, Hinchliffe converting.

Brods’ lineout, as usual, was functioning well with Matt Raven regularly picking out Bob Sykes and the hosts pressed but were met by strong defence.

Heath were too quick off the mark on occasions and when they transgressed once too often and Richard Brown was sin-binned on 25 minutes, Brods grabbed their chance.

They scored three tries while the influential No 8 was off, starting with a lineout catch and drive try completed by hooker Raven and converted by Akroyd.

Centre Matt Hoyle then scored twice in quick succession, strolling under the posts after intercepting inside his own 22 and finishing wide on the left after Rob Jennings had made a blind side break from a scrum.

Akroyd converted the first of Hoyle’s two tries but Heath flexed their muscles on Brown’s return and their forwards earned a penalty try, converted by Hinchliffe, in the last action of the half.

Hinchliffe reduced the gap further with a penalty for offside five minutes after the resumption and it was backs to the wall for the hosts from then on.

Brods lost Jennings to the sin bin as the pressure mounted but Heath were imprecise in attack and Brods weathered the storm, only to concede when belatedly mounting their first attack of the half.

With Robson prone on the pitch, guarded by home centre Andy Clay, Eddie Cartwright intercepted on his own 22. Home scrum half Chris Vine showed great determination and speed to cut him down 15 yards short of the try line but Cartwright had the presence of mind to pop the ball up to Hinchliffe, supporting superbly, who went behind the posts and converted to give Heath a 24-22 lead.

When play resumed after the lengthy stoppage for Robson’s injury, Heath continued in the ascendancy and replacement forward Mark Puttick plunged over for a bonus-point try, which sealed victory.

There was some confusion as to whether Hinchliffe’s conversion was good, with one flag going up and one staying down, but the referee later confirmed that the kick had missed, meaning Brods took a losing bonus point to Heath’s five.