Five unanswered second half tries helped Old Brodleians overturn an 18-3 deficit and beat arch-rivals Heath 33-18 at Woodhead yesterday.
The Hipperholme side were avenging a 14-3 defeat at North Dean on November 1 and their bonus-point victory leaves them only one point behind Heath near the foot of Yorkshire One.
Home coach Matt Smith described his side’s performance in the second 40 minutes as “our best half of the season” while his Heath counterpart Kevin Plant admitted his team had been “blown away” in the second half.
It is unusual for these derby meetings to produce 50-plus points but the Brods ground staff had done a tremendous job in transforming something akin to a ploughed field recently into a decent playing surface.
An exchange referee from Warwickshire kept a tight rein on events and there was only one minor dust-up between rival players in the late stages.
Both teams lined up as per programme with Cameron Ramsden returning to partner Jack Sheldrake in the visitors’ midfield.
Heath kicked off down the slope and Brods immediately knocked on - the first of several errors which allowed the visitors to dominate the opening stages.
Stand-off Ezra Hinchliffe had three penalty shots inside 10 minutes and was on target twice to give Heath a 6-0 lead.
Matty Hoyle’s high kick and chase took play into the Heath half and Brods, held up over the try line, eventually settled for three points from the boot of Dan Wood.
Heath, as expected, had the edge in the scrum at this stage but the lineout proved a rich source of possession for the hosts with Bob Sykes very successful at the front.
However, Brods No 10 Liam Scott kicked the ball back to Heath - much to the frustration of the home supporters in a 300-strong crowd - and the visitors took advantage when swift passing on the short side following a ruck allowed winger Jacob Storey to touch down.
Hinchliffe was unable to convert but Heath led 11-3 after 23 minutes.
Brods suffered a hammer blow when Kiwi centre Sam Deacon, their main attacking threat, was stretchered off with a recurrence of a knee ligament injury.
Hinchliffe might have added to home woes but missed an angled 30 metre penalty.
Good touch-finders from half-backs Dom Walsh and Hinchliffe kept the pressure on Brods and Heath, after being penalised on the home line, quickly returned and were awarded a penalty try following a lineout catch and drive.
Hinchliffe’s simple conversion stretched Heath’s lead to 15 points but Wood replied with his second penalty.
A breathless end to the first half featured a fine 40 metre burst from home prop Callum Thompson and then an interception from Heath lock Darren Neilly which might have produced a third Heath try.
A seismic shift in the balance of power became apparent from the first scrum of the first half.
After Brods’ back replacement Dom Georgiou had lost the ball near the try line wide on the right, Heath were shunted off their own scrum and home No 8 Rob Jennings’ unconverted try made it 11-18 on 47 minutes.
Brods’ second try on 55 minutes was down to the determination of Aussie lock Sterling Ross, who carried the ball three times in quick succession close to the left touchline, eventually getting it down over the line.
Hinchliffe did his best to keep Heath moving forward but the rest of the visitors’ game was crumbling and Brods by now had unstoppable momentum - in total contrast to the previous Saturday at North Ribblesdale where they had let a 22-0 lead slip.
The home side’s growing confidence was apparent when they swung the ball across the full width of the field for Georgiou to give them the lead at 21-18 on 63 minutes.
Heath had Alex McFadden yellow carded with 13 minutes left and with one of Heath’s other props, Olly Cook, having limped out of the action, scrums became uncontested.
There was still no respite for the visitors as Brods banked the bonus point with their fourth try on 68 minutes via a lineout catch and drive with Jennings and Ross in the van as the ball was carried over the line.
Scott scored the final try, looping round a mass of players, and Wood took his chance with an easier conversion opportunity.
Heath produced one last act of defiance. Walsh broke through the middle with support from Ian Downsborough, but the ball went to ground and his side finished well beaten.
Players and spectators observed a minute’s silence before Saturday’s game in memory of Eddie Hopkinson, a former Old Rishworthians and Brods player and tireless worker at Woodhead, who died last week.