Bishop's Stortford suffered their first National League 1 defeat of the season as they succumbed 33-25 at Leeds Tykes
Bishop's Stortford suffered their first National League 1 defeat of the season as they succumbed 33-25 at Leeds Tykes on Saturday.
The visitors had a nine-point advantage at half time, but the hosts, who had lost their opening two matches, came back to take the honours with Austin Pope receiving a red card.
The home side ran aggressively all match and, through opposition errors, were able to dominate the ball and territory for much of the first half. Credit to Stortford during this time for a sterling defensive stint, as the home side time and time again ran hard and straight in wave after wave, but seldom looked like breaking through.
It took until the 21st minute for Stortford to enter the opposition half with ball in hand but, when they did, they made it count fully with an excellent try to Jacob Wrafter after some clever interpassing between forwards and backs.
Dan Cole converted for a seven-point lead that lasted 11 minutes until Leeds converted one of many breakdown penalties.
The Stortford cause had certainly not been helped by the loss 15 minutes into the game of skipper Sam Winter to an arm injury, but more significant was the catalogue of individual errors which prevented them from establishing any pattern to their game.
Yet another breakdown penalty with 35 minutes gone brought the home side another three points and a yellow card to James Thacker for team offences.
Remarkably, given the balance of play, it was Stortford that scored just before the break when a quick switch to the right gave Cole Swannack space to beat his opposite number on the outside and pass inside for Dan Powell to touch down out wide for an unconverted try.
As Stortford's tackling became progressively less decisive, Leeds came more into the game after the restart. And they were finally rewarded with a try under the posts when a long pass behind a screen allowed the home No 13 to drift wide then swerve inside for the touchdown. Within three minutes Leeds took the lead for the first time with a penalty goal when Austin Pope was carded for a high tackle.
Worse was to come as the Leeds No 9 took advantage of one of a number of Stortford kicks directly into touch to register a try when a quick lineout was taken which caught the visitors napping. An excellent conversion from close to touch stretched the lead to eight points.
Stortford managed to fight back and were soon awarded a penalty try as a maul driven from a five-metre lineout was collapsed, an offence for which a Leeds prop was carded. Unfortunately, far from capitalising on the extra man, Stortford contrived almost immediately to fail to gather a high kick and compound the error with a high tackle and yellow card to Swannack.
The visitors, nevertheless, managed to get their noses ahead again with a penalty at a scrum under the home posts.
A potentially crucial incident followed shortly afterwards when Thacker was flattened by what looked like a violent and high shot, but the officials, close on hand, insisted there was no foul play.
No such judgement was formed minutes later when Pope was penalised for another high tackle, even though the tackled player was dipping into the tackle. Inevitably the decision meant a penalty under the posts, three points to the home side and a red card to the Stortford player.
Two soft penalties in quick succession conceded by Stortford put Leeds once more on the attack well inside the opposition half and, with visiting spirits apparently, the home No 9 was able to scythe through the heart of the defence for his second try. The easy conversion took the final score to 33-25.