West Bowling 10, Wibsey Warriors 16
Three crucial penalties from the trusty boot of centre Luke Helliwell fired Wibsey Warriors into the final of the Jack Senior Memorial Bradford Cup after a battle royal against old foes West Bowling at Emsleys Recreation Ground.
Both sides were heavily penalised for straying offside in a nervy opening to the semi-final tie and Bowling lived to regret an early missed opportunity, when centre Jason Marshall passed into touch with wingman Ethan Ryan lurking unmarked with a clear route to the whitewash.
The breakthrough came on the quarter mark when Warriors centre Todd Carter changed the point of attack, enabling prop forward Chris Vogel to build up a head of steam to power over at the side of the uprights. This left Helliwell to slot over the extras.
Bowling soon evened the score when prop Connor Wood, who was the best forward on the field, brushed aside two defenders to put second-row forward Jack Milburn into open space.
He in turn offloaded to supporting full back Gareth Cullington, who sprinted to the posts and enabled scrum half Ben Heald to slot over a simple conversion.
West’s suffered a setback when substitute forward Sha Basha was caught holding down in the tackle and Helliwell slotted over the resulting penalty.
The classy centre then caused havoc in the home ranks with a raking run down the flank, only to see his speculative overhead pass fail to find a team-mate with the try line beckoning.
The old adage that two points is better than none once more proved to be a wise move when the deadly accuracy of Helliwell increased the Warriors’ tally with another penalty to end the half 10-6 in their favour.
Bowling started the second stanza in determined mood when Wood made ground to allow second-row forward Richard Lumb the opportunity to send centre Adam Reardon through with a delayed pass, which levelled the score at 10-10.
But it was the Warriors who produced the try of the game when a sweeping cross-field passing move saw wingman Paul Jennings cruise in at the corner flag.
The conversion was too far out of Halliwell’s range but he made no mistake with ten minutes to go when Bowling were penalised for a head-high challenge as the tension mounted.
Wibsey then played the percentages to keep the hosts pinned in their own half to claim the victory in what had been a splendid encounter.