Old Brodleians survived some alarming late lapses to beat a never-say-die Guisborough side by 26-24 at Woodhead yesterday.
They turned on the style to cruise into a 19-0 lead in the first quarter up the slope, but showed only flashes of good play after that and were given a real scare by the winless visitors late on.
Guisborough scored two tries in the last three minutes and had a chance to snatch a draw with a touchline conversion at the death but Joe Whyman’s effort was well wide.
It was Brods’ fourth win in a row and they went above Pontefract to join Calderdale rivals Old Crossleyans and Heath in Yorkshire One’s top four but coach Ollie Akroyd was bemused by the performance.
He emerged from the dressing room to say: “The lads are really down in there because we set much higher standards.”
On the late lapses he said: “They were very unusual mistakes, individual mistakes which are not happening on a regular basis.
“The performance was not great and we’ve scraped over the line but it’s another five points and we will move on.”
The Hipperholme men had a handful of forwards missing, including props Callum Thompson and Joe Kafatolu with minor injuries, but influential No 8 Rob Jennings returned and their set piece functioned smoothly, particularly the lineout.
Akroyd felt Brods’ early play was some of their best of the season, full back Danny Chappell giving them the lead on five minutes after lock Tom Hanson had driven down the middle and off-loaded in the tackle.
Young stand off Joe Potter got the first of his two tries after 15 minutes when the ball bounced up for him from centre Michael Briggs’ hack through. Phil Town added the easy goal for a 12-0 lead.
When prop Bennie Pritchett went on a trademark rampaging run and broke tackles to go under the posts for another converted try soon after, the visitors from the north east were having a torrid time on a rare visit to Woodhead.
However, Guisborough are far from the whipping boys their lowly status indicates, with several very near misses this season, and they got five points back approaching half time through centre Alex Ruff.
They maintained the momentum after the break and when Hanson was yellow carded, Ruff made the most of a loose pass which wrong-footed the home defence to touch down again. Whyman thumped over an excellent conversion to make it 19-12.
Guisborough were inventive and a couple of excellent diagonal kicks could have yielded tries for speedy winger PJ Finken-Hayes wide on the right.
Brods settled the home fans’ nerves, for the time being at least, with an excellent bonus point try on 53 minutes. Starting from a scrum deep in their own territory, Jennings and Town played key roles in a sweeping move which was finished by Potter, who circled round close to the posts for Town to add the goal and make it 26-12.
Matthew Hoyle was stopped by a crunching tackle and a couple of inaccurate passes to winger Jason Dodd spoiled other Brods opportunities.
In the last 10 minutes the home side shot themselves in the foot with careless errors after winning lineout and scrum ball and ill-advised attempts to kick clear against the breeze.
Whyman scored after Chappell’s kick was charged down and the stand-off elected to add a drop goal conversion with time running out.
Finken-Hayes then dived in at the corner against a struggling and lethargic defence and there were huge sighs of relief from the home camp when Whyman was unable to level matters.