Old Rishworthians dug deep in poor conditions to beat visitors Old Brodleians 18-15 in the final Calderdale derby of the year in Yorkshire One yesterday.
Player-coach Chris Stone hailed an “outstanding” performance from his players, who looked likely to be over-run when they conceded two tries in the first 14 minutes but came through to win with 13 unanswered points in the second half.
The Copley side had ended a barren spell at Selby the previous Saturday and were doubling their league win tally for the season in the space of eight days. They have climbed to fourth from bottom and hooker Stone believes his players are witnessing a momentum shift.
Brods looked promotion outsiders a month ago but three successive narrow defeats has shattered those hopes. Coach Ollie Akroyd struggled to put his disappointment into words after the game but accused some of his players of “shying away.”
On a gloomy, wet afternoon, the contest reached crunch point entering the final 10 minutes.
A Josh Kelly penalty had given Rishworthians the lead for the first time and Brods threw the kitchen sink and every household appliance going at the home defence in a prolonged assault on the try line in front of the clubhouse.
Rishworthians simply refused to yield with a superb, gutsy tackling effort and it was the visitors’ nerve which cracked first, successive errors from centre Matt Carbutt and then lock Alex Murphy, just back from the sin-bin, sealing their fate.
Remarkable, it was the third game in a row between the sides to finish with a three-point margin, Rishworthians emerging victorious in two of those contests.
Stone praised his side’s low error-count and said the returns of Harvey Keighley-Payne at No 8 and George Wright at scrum half had been major boosts.
“The last two weeks have put a smile back on faces. We defended like we meant it; we did not take a backward step.”
A one-sided contest looked on the cards when a Brods side whose absentees included goal kicking centre Phil Town and big lock Tom Hanson quickly went into a 10-0 lead.
Young hooker Liam Stapley broke off a maul wide on the left to open the scoring and Brods were gifted a second try on the other side of the pitch when indecision by Rishworthians following a Brods kick left winger Matt Hoyle with the simple task of gathering the ball and dropping over the line.
The sides then traded tries from lineout catch and drives, prop Phil Kershaw scoring for the hosts and blind side flanker Joe Kafatolou replying for Brods. Matty Hoyle’s conversion attempt of the latter try hit the bar and the sides turned round with the score 5-15.
The strength of the wind, now in the home side’s favour, suddenly became apparent and the heavy boot of home stand off Josh Kelly came to the fore.
Brods were pinned back, Rishworthians’ excellent lineout served up possession and lock Callum Heseltine drove over the try line. Kelly converted and made it 15-15 with an angled penalty on 51 minutes.
An ambitious attempt from half-way was off target but a lineout penalty enabled Kelly to give his side the lead on 69 minutes.
Brods were down to 14 men at this stage, Murphy having clumsily injured home winger Luke Flanagan trying to retrieve the ball after it had bounced off his knees following a kick. The visitors tried desperately to salvage the contest but the home side, with Keighley-Payne leading the defensive effort and fellow youngster Sam Bake making a crucial tackle, were not to be denied.