North One East: Bradford & Bingley 7 Morley 48

BRADFORD & Bingley managed to receive as many cards as they scored points in what was in many ways a bizarre North One East derby at Wagon Lane.

Scrum half Lance Taylor, debutant hooker Will Bentley, No 8 Tom Cummins, prop Ryan Wederell and skipper Tom Booth (twice) saw yellow, with the latter’s second sin-binning resulting in a red card with just five minutes left.

There was no doubt that slick play-off chasing Morley were the better team but it would have been interesting to see how close the Bees could have got to them were it not for the constant intervention of referee Andy Baker.

Booth’s first yellow card in the 23rd minute came for persistent team offences, with the captain paying the penalty even though the offence was committed by the front row, while his second 52 minutes later was for a sarcastic gesture towards the referee.

“I was not 100 per cent certain that the captain taking one for the team as far as a yellow card is concerned even existed as a law,” admitted Booth afterwards.

“The second one was for dissent, although I did not say a word. However, I clapped sarcastically.

“I had reached the end of my tether by then, and I think a few others had too.

“We competed well for an hour but the last 20 minutes were a bit of a circus, although it would be easy to blame the referee for everything that happened.

“We should not have let external factors get to us as much as we did and we should look at ourselves and not let the season slide away, but Morley played well and have a lot of pace.”

Bradford & Bingley were fifth going into the match, while Morley were third, 11 points better off and only ten points behind leaders Morpeth.

Maybe that play-off incentive was a factor for the Maroons as they were ahead by the third minute, despite playing into a strong wind that blew towards Dowley Gap.

Flanker Brad Freeman made the break and Morley showed great continuity, with No 8 Brandon Hannam finishing off the attack many phases later.

Fly half Mark Chester’s conversion was charged down, and both sides then contrived to give away possession, with the hosts the greater culprits, before the visitors were over again in the tenth minute, this time courtesy of right winger Karl Bradshaw on his opposite flank.

Fellow winger Fin Dewar then embarked on a weaving run before a pass went astray, and the pain continued for Bradford & Bingley in the 23rd minute when Wederell went off to the blood bin for treatment to a facial cut and they immediately conceded a penalty try.

Booth was sin-binned at this point, but his team were given some hope when winger Aaron Magee pounced on a loose ball, kicked ahead twice and, showing a clean pair of legs, gathered from a kind bounce to score a fine try in the 28th minute.

Taylor converted, but the Maroons ended the half on top with a break by Chester and scrum half Kenny Sewell and an injury-time bonus-point try by Freeman that Chester converted to make it 24-7, with Cummins seeing yellow for being offside.

The Bees lost lock Jarman Langton to a head injury for the second half, and Chester missed a long shot at goal downwind before referee Baker needed treatment in midfield for a shoulder injury.

Taylor was the next Bees player to receive a ten-minute breather in the 52nd minute, and two minutes later they conceded a fifth try, with replacement Nick Green going over.

Dewar then capitalised on some slipshod home tackling to score the sixth after 64 minutes, with Chester’s conversion making it 36-7, and a second penalty try followed six minutes later, with Wederell’s yellow card coming as a consequence.

Scrums became uncontested due to a lack of Bees props and, in an increasingly hostile atmosphere, Baker, who seemingly had a running dialogue with Cummins, talked to both Booth and Sewell.

A minute later, Booth got his second yellow card, meaning that he also received a red, and Morley unsurprisingly got the eighth and last try in the 78th minute via Freeman.