Baildon 5 West Park Leeds 28
On the day when Baildon’s relegation was confirmed after a campaign to forget, former coach Dave Duxbury offered a ray of hope.
Duxbury, now in charge at West Park Leeds, was at the helm at Jenny Lane until the end of last season and helped them to an RFU Junior Vase victory in two Twickenham appearances in as many years, as well as promotion and a Yorkshire Silver Trophy triumph.
Having watched a side he mentored to dizzy heights, he said: “If Baildon play with that kind of spirit, they will win more games than they lose next season.”
Baildon prop Pete Lowth, who made the try-saving tackle that sealed glory at HQ against Harrow two years ago, said: “That was one of the best first halves we have put in all season but after one or two missed tackles in the second half, our heads went down.
“Mind you, it doesn’t help when only 15 turn up for training.”
Duxbury admitted it was a weird experience returning to his old stamping ground, saying: “I nearly turned left when I went into the changing rooms, instead of right.”
But he was less than happy at half-time after a stanza in which Baildon had shown plenty of muscle and touches of creativity down the hill.
Full back Ollie Waddington missed a penalty for the hosts in the third minute from the ten-metre line after West Park had been pinged for a loose bind, but they cranked up the pressure nearing the 20-minute mark.
Richard Kingham almost broke through in the centre, and the forwards were held up over the line a minute later before the hosts went ahead.
Centre JJ O’Connell, who had already been off for treatment to his right shoulder, returned to the fray and scored in the 19th minute after good work by Nick Lister.
With No 8 Alistair Beaumont offering a strong lead, Baildon sought a second try but they ended the half on the defensive as West Park winger Alistair Booth scored a breakaway try that was converted by full back Simon Towler.
The latter also missed two penalties, and West Park were also held up over the line.
The visitors were generally in charge in the second half, with No 8 John Fletcher getting two pushover tries, and Booth also claiming his second, Towler landing all three conversions, including two from wide out.
Trailing 28-5 after 52 minutes, Baildon could have been on the wrong end of a hiding, but they re-grouped and prevented their Bramhope neighbours from adding to their four tries.
However, the news on the injury front was not good. Fly half Jamie Vening broke a collarbone, O’Connell came off with a right knee injury and Lister was troubled by an anterior cruciate ligament.