North One East: West Leeds 33 Bradford & Bingley 5

MUCH of the talk before this North One East fixture had been about the speed of the home backline being countered by the strength of the Bradford & Bingley pack.

But with both first-choice second rows not available and skipper Tom Booth also sidelined with a back injury, the engine room, which has given Martin Whitcombe's side much of their forward momentum this season, always looked under powered.

There was also some irony in the fact that three of the home side's tries came directly from their pack simply powering over the visitors at close quarters, shunting the Bees eight backwards, sideways and simply out of the way on their way to the try-line.

The home side played almost an hour of the game a man short after the referee showed a straight red card to the home captain after he planted an elbow squarely in the face of Max Mountain.

It made no difference to the hosts, however, and indeed West Leeds played 20 minutes with only 13 on the field as the referee awarded two yellows after the initial red.

The home side were clearly on top for all but the first five and final 15 minutes of the contest and looked likely to run in far more than the five scores they did collect as the scoreboard ticked on to 33-0 with 22 minutes to play.

The Bees seemed to lack leadership on the field and seemed unable to raise their collective game to meet the abrasive threat of the home pack, matched by some incisive kicking which always gained useful ground for the hosts.

Individuals in Bees colours stuck gamely to their tasks.

Tom Cummins bashed away from first to last at the coal face, Louis Fraser always looked lively and Dennis Touffour caught the eye in attack and defence in an otherwise lacklustre perfomance from the Bees backline.

The visitors began brightly enough and were camped in West Leeds territory for the opening exchanges.

As the Bees attacked towards the right-hand corner, a loose kick from Adam Sutcliffe gave possession away and suddenly momentum was with the home side.

A simple kick into the Bees 22 found no-one at home in the right-hand corner of the Bees defence and it was an easy score for the West Leeds chaser.

Two penalties for the home side stretched the lead to 11-0 before the red card midway through the first half.

The Bees failed to capitalise, however, although Manny Riaz was unlucky not to reach the whitewash with one of the rare breaks made up the left- hand side of the field.

With three minutes to half-time, another simple kick and chase from the home side again caught the visitors' defence napping and it was 18-0 as the sides changed ends.

The Bees must have hoped that they could come out for the second period with more fire in their bellies than they had ended the first stanza, but from the first attack West Leeds drove for the line from a line-out and it all seemed far too easy.

With 23 points on the board, the hosts were cruising and the visitors were unable to stop another shunt for the line which made it 28-0.

There then was a period where the visitors at least took the edge off the home attack, but, aside from the occasional individual gallop from a Cummins, Fraser, Touffour or Mat Cochrane, the Bees never really looked like breaking free.

West Leeds wrestled back control and it was soon 33-0 with more than a quarter of the game remaining.

The Bees sent on fresh legs from the bench and things did begin to improve, but pulling back 26 points or scoring four tries to claim a bonus point never looked likely, despite improved coherence in attack and defence.

With eight minutes to go, the visitors' endeavours in West Leeds territory were finally rewarded as an attack moved wide to the left and the ball ended up in the hands of Inoke Finau.

With only the slenderest of paths to the whitewash, the Bees wingman did well to take on the final defender and barge over in the corner.