Yorkshire Division Four North West: Wibsey 24 Knaresborough 16

WIBSEY may have kept their 100 per cent record in Yorkshire Division Four North West and thus ended Knaresborough’s perfect start, but the Villagers aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

“I reckon that we would certainly hold our own in Yorkshire Three but the priority is promotion,” said Wibsey’s player-coach Andy Robinson.

Last season Wibsey qualified for the end-of-season Yorkshire Four play-offs in fourth place and thus gave themselves a big handicap in terms of gaining promotion from the eight-team shootout as points already earned against rival qualifiers were carried forward, leaving them virtually no margin for error.

But this time, with four wins out of four, Robinson’s team aim to take more of the doubt out of the equation.

The playmaker added: “I thought Knaresborough were good. I have watched them on YouTube from last season and they had a big pack and they had backs with pace, but we had eight players back from the team that beat Halifax in the Yorkshire Vase.

“We picked a team with pace ourselves because we were expecting them to be quick, but our try just before half-time gave us a lot of confidence.”

Wibsey were playing into the diagonal wind in the first half as the remnants of Storm Callum spluttered over Bradford and, despite their No 8 Michael Kite giving them a strong lead up the slope, the hosts went behind to an eighth-minute penalty by fly half James Morland.

However, Wibsey’s tactics of keeping the ball in hand generally paid dividends, with one attack down the left in the 10th minute being ended when full back Brad Wright’s pass went behind winger Ryan Goldsborough.

Flanker Luke Wilson was the next to show down that same flank five minutes later but he could not quite gather his own subtle kick ahead after being found with a fine flat pass.

Then Knaresborough could not cope with a fine piece of continuity from the home side as they pierced the middle of the visitors’ defence before moving the ball right for centre Kyle Carter to go over on the flank in the 18th minute.

Robinson understandably missed the conversion but must also have been pondering why his Wibsey team had already lost possession three times when running the ball into contact.

The strength of the wind could be seen by Morland kicking the ball dead from just outside his own 22 but the danger signs were still there for the hosts and it needed a try-saving tackle by fly half Jordan Payton in the 31st minute after full back Sam Harrison almost got on the end of a kick ahead by the unlikely source of prop Salim Karama.

Four minutes later, Knaresborough No 8 Kieran Fleming was sin-binned by referee Mike Hines (West Yorkshire Society) for being the latest visitor to be pinged for offside, and he was followed into the cooler by Robinson in first-half injury time for interference.

Three minutes later, in the 44th minute, Wibsey were held up over the Knaresborough line after good work by the home trio of Kite, skipper Mark Darragh and hooker James Brown, but the reprieve was short-lived as, three minutes later, Goldsborough went over on the right after another excellent team move.

Trailing 10-6 at half-time, Knaresborough officials were seen talking to referee Hines just before the second half started, and the reason for that became apparent as Robinson, who had returned from the sin-bin, kicked off for Wibsey while the visitors were still without Fleming, who had been yellow-carded six minutes before Robinson!

It took Hines four minutes to bring the teams back to parity, but Knaresborough soon cashed in as the teams played 15 a side again as centre Sam Foster went over on the right after some sharp handling.

Morland’s conversion attempt failed but Knaresborough were still leading 11-10, and it took a monstrous clearance kick downfield by Wright to put Wibsey on the front foot again.

They were held up over the line in the 57th minute but there was no denying replacement Ross Simpson two minutes later after the home pack destroyed Knaresborough’s scrum by shoving them back at a rate of knots.

Robinson’s conversion made it 17-11, and two minutes later, in the 61st minute, the centre set off on an unstoppable charge to the Knaresborough line from between the visitors’ ten-metre line and their 22, showing footwork and pace to score the bonus-point try.

The same player added the conversion to make it 24-11 but Wibsey had a worrying end to what remained of the final quarter as Carter was sin-binned for a late tackle on Harrison in the 68th minute when some referees might have produced a red card.

Carter was obviously full of remorse in the seconds after the incident, and maybe that saved him, but it needed another Wright howitzer downfield to relieve pressure.

Man-of-the-match Kite almost produced a try for Wibsey, but could not get his pass away, and the only interest in the closing stages was whether Knaresborough could gain a losing bonus point.

They came close in the eighth minute of injury time when they were held up, and got over a minute later via scrum half Steven Youngson – one of three brothers in the Knaresborough team.

However, the visitors needed hooker Sean Whitelow’s conversion to find its mark to get that losing bonus point and, from the right touchline into the wind, it hadn’t got the legs, leaving Wibsey the winners by eight points with a full haul of league points.