Ollie Akroyd’s reign as Old Brodleians coach got off to an exciting, dramatic and successful start at Woodhead yesterday.
A new-look side, containing only five regulars from last season, came from 19-5 down early in the second half to beat Beverley by 40-26 in the Yorkshire One opener.
The Hipperholme men spent long spells under the cosh as the referee took a hard line and sent three of their players to the sin-bin but they turned it round in unlikely fashion with four converted tries in little more than 15 minutes at the end.
Brods were avenging a defeat at Beverley in the final match of the 2017-18 campaign and Akroyd admitted the scale of the overhaul since then had been extensive.
“I am very pleased considering where the squad was at the end of last season, This was brilliant for us as a club and unexpected,” said Akroyd.
Brods fielded four of last season’s successive Colts side in front rowers Tom Ashton and Liam Stapley, stand-off Joe Potter and winger Harris Morris. None of them looked out of place.
Burly overseas recruit Joe Kafatolu was in at prop while returning pair Tom Hanson and Ben Hoyle added experience to the pack.
Ex-Ovenden RL centre Jason Dodd made a decent debut in the backs but it was another new face, winger John Handscombe, who rewarded Brods’ bright start against the slope by finishing off some excellent handling wide out on three minutes. Phil Town’s conversion attempt came back off a post.
Beverley finished fourth last season and a secure set piece helped them dominate field position for most of the rest of the half.
They went 7-5 up on 14 minutes when centre James Graham supported a break down the middle. Phil Dubolay knocked over the conversion.
Town’s careless knock-on near his own line landed Brods in trouble and Kafatolu was first in the sin-bin as Brods’ creaked at the scrum.
Intense pressure looked sure to yield a second Beverley score but Brods somehow survived and the visitors declined a couple of straight penalty chances as the clock ticked down towards the interval.
There were a couple of skirmishes in back play and Brods then lost Dodd’s midfield partner Matt Carbutt to the sin-bin for what was adjudged a high tackle.
Just when Brods looked as if they might hold out, Beverley fullback Luke Hazell slipped easily through the defence following a scrum 40 metres out.
Dubolay surprisingly missed the kick but made it 19-5 four minutes after the break when he converted Hazell’s second try, touched down wide on the left.
It looked a long way back for Brods but Hanson burst through and Kafatolu eventually planted the ball at the foot of a post and Town converted.
Home skipper Rob Jennings had sat out much of the first half after a blow to the face and he had to endure another 10 minutes on the sidelines for handling in the ruck, heralding more Beverley pressure.
Potter cleared from his own line and his kick at the other end just rolled dead before Handscombe could reach it.
Dubolay was off target with a drop goal attempt before Brods shredded the visitors’ defence with a well-worked try finished by Morris and converted by Town to make it 19-19.
Town then shrugged off two attempted tackles and swallow dived over in the corner, adding the conversion from the touchline.
However, Kafatolu gave the ball away on the restart and Town missed a chance to clear before Beverley replacement Joey Picketts plunged over near the posts. Dubolay’s kick made it 26-26 with two minutes plus added time left.
Brods were not to be denied and an inside pass left the hard-to-stop Jennings charging to the posts.
Town converted and a barely believable finale continue with a try from replacement Andy Clay, following good work from scrum half Joe Armitage, Town again adding the extras.