Bradford & Bingley 6 Sandal 15
There is little doubt that Sandal, who defended superbly, deserved to win this derby – but there was still a ‘what if’ moment.
In the 31st minute, referee Nick Ramsden sin-binned both of Sandal’s props – Luke Norbury for retaliation and Rob Norbury for dissent.
Sandal then brought on another prop (on health and safety grounds) and sacrificed flanker Tim Pickers-gill, with the referee immediately going to uncontested scrums.
The question is: Should Sandal have been told by the referee to lose another player during the ten minutes after the sin-binnings as happened to the Bees in similar cirumstances two seasons ago against Penrith?
It is doubtful whether Saturday’s match will be replayed and there is no certainty that the Bees would have scored any points, so good was the visitors’ defence, but they would have liked the opportunity to play against 12, rather than 13.
And, ironically, the scrum was the only area where the Bees had a clear advantage, so that they actually did better when the Norburys came back on and they were playing against 15 rather than 13!
With a past players’ reunion luncheon filling the main bar of the clubhouse, the decision was made to play the game on the first-team pitch, rather than across the river as the Bees had done seven days previously in the Yorkshire Cup against Old Crossleyans.
The home side were soon behind, Luke Norbury forcing his way through some soft tackling by the home pack in the third minute, full back James Ellars missing a testing conversion.
A second Sandal try looked immiment in the eighth minute until Bees winger James Morton intercepted the ball in his own 22 but he was unable to gain enough purchase on the soft surface to race away for a try and the breakaway was halted.
Buoyed by a fine run by flanker Adam Malthouse, the Bees won a penalty after some Sandal interference in the 18th minute and Richard Scull landed the kick to cut the deficit to two points.
It was disappointing that the Bees could not capitalise on the sin-binning of the two props, despite uncontested scrums taking away their main weapon.
The only other curiosity of the half was Bees first-team manager Benji Pickin (who was trying to tell the referee he had to take another Sandal player off) and Sandal’s head coach Jim Kilfoyle, who seemed to be more peacemaker than antagonist, being told to return to their respective technical areas.
Trailing 5-3, Bradford & Bingley’s man of the match, full back Tom Kanauros, pulled off a fine try-saving tackle in the 44th minute, but moments later Sandal’s man of the match Rob Norbury powered over for a try, Ellar’s conversion making it 12-3.
The same kicker then hit a post with a penalty in the 53rd minute after the Bees were offside but was successful three minutes later to extend the lead to 15-3.
Having found it difficult to get into Sandal’s half for much of the second period and seemingly tiring, the hosts mounted their most sustained period of pressure in the final 20 minutes.
Scull’s second penalty in the 68th minute brought them within sight of a bonus point but, despite the sin-binning of Sandal skipper Simon Frewin six minutes later for dissent, the Bees could not make their territory and possession count.
Former Yorkshire coach Kilfoyle said: “I reckon the Bees need to win four of their last seven fixtures to stay up.
“They can play a good forward game and a good backs game but their problem is the integration between the two.”