Few rugby union props fall into the ‘prolific try scorer’ category but Bennie Pritchett staked his claim to be among them as Old Brodleians made an impressive start to 2018 yesterday.
The popular American. almost as wide as he is tall, bagged three of his side’s five tries in the 33-13 home eclipse of Moortown.
He helped the Woodhead men turn around an 8-0 deficit after the first quarter to notch their first Yorkshire One double of the season.
The visitors from Leeds, the reigning Yorkshire Two champions, had been in excellent form before the Christmas break but they were put in their place by a Brods side who played confidently after a sticky start.
The scrum was again the only area of concern in a display which featured particularly good performances from lively scrum half Gareth Newman, whippet-like winger Chris Vine, hard-running hooker Jay Dahlinger and back rower Danny Vento, who was always in the thick of the action.
A much-improved kicking game, from Danny Cole out of hand and Phil Town off the tee, was another bonus for home supporters.
Moortown started confidently down the slope against a fairly strong breeze, winger Tom Moorby breaking weak tackles twice in quick succession, on the second occasion touching down for an unconverted try on five minutes.
Home skipper Rob Jennings crossed the Moortown line but was curiously brought back for a Brods scrum five metres out and the home side were shunted off the ball.
Play swept to the other end where a breakdown offence allowed Moortown centre Daryl Gaunt to slot an easy penalty.
Brods’ first three tries all came from excellent Cole penalties to touch deep in Moortown territory.
Pritchett got the first two of them, from close range on 21 and 25 minutes, Town chipping over both conversions for a 14-8 lead.
Vine got back to clear up after a deep Moortown kick but a wayward pass following the ruck led to Brods conceding a five metre scrum and with the referee playing a penalty advantage, Moortown swung the ball wide for winger Alex Robinson to score an unconverted try.
Brods extended their advantage from a precarious one point to 13 points with two tries in the closing three minutes of the first half.
Excellent handling enabled Vine to cross wide on the left and when Pritchett was ruled to have lost the ball backwards, centre Matt Carbutt carried it over half-way and winger Ben Barron went round the full-back to touch down.
Town converted his side’s bonus point try for a 26-13 interval lead.
The next score was going to be vital and Brods got it on 49 minutes, Pritchett breaking from a maul 10 metres out, burrowing under a defender and swallow diving over the line to complete his hat-trick. Town converted.
There was no addition to the scoreline after that, mainly due to good, determined defence from both sides.
Brods, with their lineout now functioning smoothly and the better back line, posed the greater threat in spite of losing Town to the sin-bin.
Carbutt was halted five metres short, Barron was pushed into touch near the corner flag and Pritchett went close to a fourth try.
When replacement Matt Hoyle was unable to hold a head-high pass with the try line open, a Moortown side who had replacement Tom Walsh yellow carded late on, broke away but the cover got across.