Knottingley knock Baildon off top after stunning win with 13 men

Try scorer: Knottingley's Steven Berry.
Try scorer: Knottingley's Steven Berry.
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Knottingley took over as leaders of Yorkshire Three after winning a remarkable top of the table clash with Baildon.

Up against opponents who had won all of their first seven league games, Knottingley looked to be their eighth victims when they had two men sent-off and were trailing 19-7 with 20 minutes remaining. But they produced a tremendous effort in the final quarter to run out 26-19 winners and leapfrog Baildon into top spot.

The opening half was a close contest with Knottingley 7-6 up at the break after scoring the only try through forward Steven Berry.

But Baildon started the second half the better and turned pressure into points to open up a 12-point gap.

Knottingley’s cause was not helped as Steven Seed and Dale McGregor were both red carded to leave them with 13 men, but they dug deep, kept the visitors out for the remainder and launched an amazing comeback.

Firstly Ryan Eades went over under the posts then Louis Gates crossed the line out wide to bring the scores level at 19-19.

Knottingley did not settle for the draw despite being two men down and they grabbed a winning try from the final play of the game as Paul Rockett’s pass gave Nicky Beach the ball in space in his own 22. From there he sidestepped the Baildon winger and got clear to run almost the length of the field for a try fit to win any game and this time to earn a bonus point victory.

Castleford were left frustrated despite beating bottom of the table Halifax in Yorkshire Three.

Leading 20-3 early in the second half, Castleford were unable to shake off a gritty performance from Halifax and their cause was not helped by the referee’s handling of the breakdowns, which allowed the visitors to escape without punishment for persistent offences.

The win moves Castleford back up to fifth in the table but if they are to make a concerted effort to rise further up the table they must start winning the bonus points on offer in each game.

The visitors started like a train and peppered the home line in the first quarter. However, their defensive line held firm and they steadied and took the lead when skipper Thomas Egan slotted a penalty from 40 metres out and this was soon negated by a Halifax penalty.

They soon added their first try after a long kick up-field set up a five-metre line-out. Hooker Shane Blamires drove towards the line and a long pass from the base of the ensuing ruck put winger Nathan Tomlinson in at the corner. Egan added the touchline conversion.

A second try followed when second-rower Gareth Grant-Mills went on a powerful cross-field drive and passed to centre Thomas Dobson who steadied before changing direction to cut unopposed through the visitors’ defensive line, like a knife through butter, ending up at the side of the posts to give Egan an easy conversion.

Castleford were 17-3 ahead at the interval and went further ahead with an Egan penalty early in the second half. To their credit, Halifax dug deep, helped by some strange decisions at the breakdown, which caused frustration in the Castleford ranks.

Open play was squashed by the visitors’ pack as they took advantage and scored a converted push-over try late in the game.

The game ended on a sour note when a Halifax player appeared to bite the Castleford hooker’s hand, an incident that went unpunished. Castleford now face three games against teams around them in the league and their response will give the club a measure of how far the team have developed.

Pontefract maintained their promotion bid in Yorkshire Two with a 27-10 win away to Wath Upon Dearne that made it seven victories from eight.

Craig Fawcett, Jack Beddis and Stewart Sanderson all crossed for tries while Ian Mattison kicked two penalties and three conversions.