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RUGBY UNION: Beavers have no answer to strong Bradford side

Bradford Salem 45 – 18  Beverley RUFC (Saturday October 27)

A bright, breezy, chilly autumnal afternoon saw both teams take the field for this clash between two apparently very evenly placed middle-order teams, currently sitting seventh and eighth in the League. Beverley were necessarily fielding a slightly under-strength team, but the return of some key players who had been out through injury would, it was hoped, redress that situation and optimism was high.

Bradford won the toss and kicked off with the wind. Early omens that it was going to be a tough afternoon were immediately apparent as the Beavers conceded a penalty on their own 22 metre line with barely one minute gone. From the ensuing kick into touch, deep into Beverley’s five metre line, Bradford won a well-taken line-out and pushed over for their first try with barely three minutes on the clock.

Bradford missed the conversion, but in the following exchanges, they were looking powerful and well organised, but despite that, the Beavers managed a brief spell of good passing rugby which brought them to the well-defended Bradford 22 metre line when they incurred yet another penalty. Bradford quickly turned this to their advantage with a long kick down-field, another well-taken line-out and another mirror-image push-over. 

With just eleven minutes on the clock, Beverley were looking at the wrong end of a 10 – 0 score-line, which Bradford quickly turned into 12 – 0 with the ensuing conversion.

Despite this depressing start, the Beavers’ heads were not dropping and full-back Luke Hazell made a lovely run from the Beverley 22, but got brought down at the Bradford 22 and lost the ball. Bradford turned this error to their advantage with a lovely piece of running and passing rugby which, on 19 minutes, gave them a touch-down right in the corner, which they were unable to convert.

This was followed by a brief spell of end-to-end rugby, during which Beverley were unable to penetrate the Salem defence and, just one minute later, Bradford had won another penalty on the Beverley 22, which they quickly turned into their set-piece kick to touch on the down-wind corner, win the line-out on the Beverley five metre, and push over for yet another try, which was converted. 

So, with just 25 minutes gone, Beverley were on the wrong end of a 24 – 0 score-line, undoubtedly influenced by the one to six penalty count against them as well as the power and skill of the Bradford Number 8.

Beverley tried to pick themselves up against the powerful Bradford side, which man-marked them very closely and robustly, and gave them no room for their open play. 

Many of the Beverley supporters will say that much of that successful marking was down to Bradford’s frequent off-side play which manifested itself throughout the game, and went largely undetected by the referee.  But the Bradford defence held and Beverley could only win themselves two penalty-goals which, at half-time meant that the score was 24 – 6 to Bradford.

It took Bradford no more than two minutes of the second half to add another converted try (31 – 6),  but following a  Bradford yellow card and some determined play by the Beavers, against the depleted Salem side, they finally secured their first converted try (31 – 13). 

But their hopes were short-lived when, 11 minutes later, Bradford went over in the corner and the resulting try was converted with a wonderful kick from out very wide (38 – 13).

The rest of the game was played out somewhat ill-naturedly (and that was just the respective supporters !) but Bradford secured themselves yet another converted try (45 – 13), and, almost at the death, Beverley managed an unconverted try to bring the final score to 45 – 18.

To summarise;  a game that quite quickly turned into a field-day for the beefy Bradford side, who ran freely, tackled extremely hard, and definitely took no prisoners. Their Number 8 proved to be a constant thorn in Beverley’s side and the Beavers were never quite able to contain him. 

For the Beverley boys, they can be proud they never let their heads droop; they played determinedly and consistently throughout, but were rarely allowed the space to get the better of the Bradford side, who deservedly won the day.  The optimism with which Beverley commenced their play was shown to be over-optimistic, but there was no shame in being beaten by the better side on the day. 

The Beverley 8 mostly held their own against a much heavier Bradford 8, and towards the end of the game even managed to push them off the ball several times, but they had little answer throughout to a very slick Bradford line-out.