14/15 1st XV. 1st XV 21 - 21 Bradford & Bingley

Well we have finally got off the mark with 2 points from a draw with Bradford and Bingley but in fact it felt like 3 points lost! B & B scored a converted try in the last minute of the game to level the scores but in fact Northern should have been out of sight!

The opening 20 minutes was evenly contested with 2 penalties by Gregg Littlewood to one by B & B. Then from the Northern kick-off Northern were fortunate when a defensive kick was charged down and Barry Blackburn followed up to score a try which Gregg Littlewood improved. B & B responded with determined runs by their centre, Tafa, a difficult man to pull down and Northern gave away a penalty which B & B kicked to the corner and from the lineout their hooker was driven over to reduce the points margin to 13 – 8. The B’s pack was considerably heavier than Northern’s and controlled the play but Northern’s backs on the counter attack with deft handling put Joe Young over for an unconverted try by the corner flag. A third penalty from Gregg Littlewood put Northern ahead 21 – 8 at half time.

The second half had a similar pattern and the B’s reduced the points margin with two further penalties. Sam Thorne was yellow-carded and Bradford sensed their opportunity but Northern responded magnificently, with winger Dom Fawcett rising to the challenge as stand-in scrum half, and camped on the Bradford 22 had several opportunities to go further ahead. Crucially a combination of strong and questionable defence when Joe Young was illegally tackled when diving for the try line (an offence which some referees would have penalised with a penalty try rather than a penalty) allowed Bradford to hold out although Northern had two clear overlap situations. Two Northern line-out drives after penalty kicks to the corners were repulsed, a kickable penalty was declined – in hindsight a wrong decision! Somehow Bradford lifted the Northern siege and from a tap penalty on their 22 a break again by Tafa opened up the Northern defence and they managed, with generous refereeing, to score by the posts to level the scores.

Certainly this was an improved Northern performance overall but the lack of that killer finish when on the ascendancy continues to be the Achilles heel!

On a sad note Dave Snoden suffered a broken leg (misaligned fracture) and snapped ligaments. He has undergone surgery and we all wish him a speedy and full recovery.

WDR

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