Yorkshire Division Four North West: Wibsey 10 Burley 26

ALREADY shorn of two of their regular front row in hooker and skipper James Brown and Simon Birkbeck beforehand, Wibsey's task against their slick derby visitors became almost impossible when they lost props Luke Wilson (shoulder) and Andy Rose (head and neck) during the match.

Rose's departure in the second half led to uncontested scrums, which ironically helped the hosts, but they could not build on their second try and never looked like salvaging a bonus point.

The good news is that Nat Light was their man of the match in the back row on his home debut and that some of their troops will soon be back to bolster their bid for glory.

Backs coach Dave Grayson said: "The aim is to get in that top four and by then we will hopefully have some of our missing players back."

Wibsey may be fourth in that race at the moment in Yorkshire Division Four North West but they are still eight points ahead of Bramley Phoenix, who do have a game in hand.

The top four in the North West section will then play the top four in the South East section home and away in the last third of the season, in what Wibsey's manager Steve Brooke is calling the 'Super Eights', with the top two to be promoted to Yorkshire Division Three.

The Villagers, who won Yorkshire Division Five last season, are used to a much more intermittent fixture programme, and Grayson added: "The boys have come a long way in a few years, but we are still not used to playing week in, week out at a different pace of rugby."

With the previous night's snow still lying on the concrete slabs in front of the clubhouse, it proved to be a chilly afternoon at Northfield Road, particularly before half-time when a snow flurry swept downfield.

Wibsey played into the wind first and, because a very competent Burley side regathered their kick-off, the hosts then had to defend for virtually the whole of the opening four minutes.

The visitors went through phase after phase before Wibsey were caught offside and Burley took a tap penalty, and were then held up over the line before the home side finally gained possession, but James Sawyer's clearance was run back, and Wibsey had to survive a second wave of pressure.

There were going to be some tired Wibsey tacklers if this continued, and the green and red dam finally broke in the eighth minute when No 8 Richard Christie forced his way over for full back Michael Bentham to add an excellent conversion from near the left touchline.

Two minutes later, Burley added a second try with a lovely passing move that didn't seem to fit with the weather, Michael Darby scoring more centrally to make Bentham's conversion much easier.

In the 13th minute, however, Burley's eagerness to step out of line in defence cost them as centre Brad Tattersley carved through a large gap, allowing the supporting Sawyer to put right winger Ryan Goldsborough over.

Fly half Luke Helliwell, who wasn't expected to play due to ankle trouble, missed the conversion, but that try was very much an isolated incursion, and Wibsey soon resumed their defensive chores.

Burley were again held up over the home line in the 26th minute, and their third try arrived a minute later, with Christie again scoring for Bentham to convert.

The home side's problems increased when flanker Chris Farley (tight chest) and Wilson departed before the interval.

Burley's advantage in the scrums increased in the second half, with Wibsey often being pushed off their own ball, but the latter's attacking threat also increased now that they had the wind behind them.

Scrum half Kyle Carter's inventive chip ahead was not met by an equally subtle touch as Goldsborough kicked the ball dead five minutes into the half.

Rose then went off, leading to uncontested scrums, but Wibsey had renewed hope when Goldsborough's pin-point kick under pressure was pounced on by Carter in the 55th minute.

Helliwell again missed the conversion, but the home side felt that they were back in the hunt at 21-10 down – at least for a losing bonus point.

However, when Wibsey replacement Ross Simpson was sin-binned for a high tackle on the hour by referee James Bex (West Yorkshire Society) that Burley never even appealed for, home hopes rather went with him, and they never managed any sustained pressure in the closing 20 minutes.

Burley, whose man of the match was Will McLoughlin, added a fourth try by Gavin Leeman, and even though Wibsey felt that they didn't get the rub of the green from Bex, they conceded that the better team won.

"We missed James Brown massively," conceded Brooke, "and couldn't get any first-phase ball, with the scrum being a particular problem."