Bradford & Bingley 24, Old Crossleyans 9
Bradford & Bingley scrum half Kirk Arundale took an important step on the road to recovery yesterday.
The 27-year-old Indonesian international played his first 80 minutes for the first team since two outings in September before he was laid low by a recurring groin injury.
“I played half a match against Sandal in October and it wasn’t right, and the injury reoccurred in training in November,” said the Bees half-back, who left Otley last summer after playing second fiddle for the No 9 shirt behind Stephen Depledge.
“Last weekend I got in 80 minutes for the second team and here I got in another 80, and I feel good.
“It was a pity that I got injured because I had a good pre-season and felt really fit.
“I want to be first choice but it is good that I am being pushed by Richard Scull here.”
This first-round Yorkshire Cup tie was switched across the river to Bradford & Bingley’s second-team pitch at Aire View, and the visitors from Halifax, who are a division below the hosts, had first use of a stiff diagonal wind on another cold afternoon.
Both Bees right winger James Morton and left winger Tom Gough saw early touches of the ball and made good ground but the home side were not helped by either losing the ball in contact, letting the ball bounce in defence or trying moves that were too intricate for the trying conditions.
Crocs went 6-0 ahead via two well-struck Josh Dean penalties before Morton was denied a try on the right by a foot in touch.
Dean then added a third penalty and, although Bradford & Bingley could not capitalise on their best spell of possession as the half drew to a close, they did manage a try out of very little by centre Ben Greaves in the 38th minute, the long-serving player sprinting over from 25 metres for full back Nick Gore to convert.
Trailing 9-7 at the interval, the Bees added another telling blow three minutes after half-time when Greaves sprinted through for his second try in similar fashion to his first, talented second-teamer Gore again landing the extras to make it 14-9.
As the wind and numbing cold on a pitch that had no shelter proved too much for some spectators, back-rower Dan Cookson added the third Bees try after 54 minutes.
The home side then got away with making a succession of errors from the restart, centre Rikki Sheriffe getting them out of a defensive position with a long boot downfield.
The fourth and final try also came from a replacement - this time Josh Davies - but Old Crossleyans, urged on by director of rugby Howard Cooper and head coach Neil Spence, never stopped trying to make headway into the wind.
Former Bees flanker Spence said: ““We came here with only two players on the bench because if we had a full complement of seven we would not have been able to fulfil our second-team fixture.
“Conditions were difficult and we had a mix and match side like them - in our case because it was originally a free Saturday - but we can take a lot out of this performance.
“I was proud of the effort that we put in, and I told the lads that afterwards.”
The Bees will now host either Hull or Harrogate in the quarter-finals on a date to be decided.