With seven late changes it was always going to be difficult for Pontefract to avenge their Yorkshire Shield defeat to North Ribblesdale as they took them on again in Yorkshire One – and so it proved as they lost 32-16.
It did give the opportunity for Dave Dunwell and Scot Wilson to make their debuts, but Ponte’s woes were compounded with the early loss of Chris Sant disrupting an already much changed back line. Ribblesdale took full advantage and opened up an 8-0 lead.
The visitors, led by their classy winger, pressured the Ponte line and only stoic and robust defending prevented further scores.
Pontefract settled down and began to play some attractive attacking rugby and were unlucky not to score when a clever cross kick from Glen Boyd bounced harmlessly into touch avoiding two unmarked players.
A Sparky Barlow try soon followed as a series of forward drives created an overlap. Dean goaled to make it 7-8.
The visitors’ stand-off’s shrewd kicking gave them territory from which they mounted a wave of attacks that was repelled by tigerish tackling from Townend, Wilson and Dunwell. A turnover was forced and Ponte appeared to have cleared their lines but the kick was brilliantly fielded by the winger who ghosted majestically through the advancing defence to put the stand-off under the posts for a converted try.
A Dean penalty pulled the score back to 10-15 before Dale Harrison was harshly yellow carded as the break approached. Rib prospered when a kick through evaded the home defence to give them a 12-point interval lead.
A determined Pontefract took the game to Rib in the second half and forced two penalties, kicked Dean, to bring them to within six.
They were now in the ascendancy, but a great defensive effort from the visitors for 30 minutes denied the reward that was looking most likely. With 10 minutes remaining, on their first visit into the home half, a Rib attack resulted in a contentious yellow card for Andy Smith, leaving Ponte trailing 25-16.
Worse was to follow when Matty Hargreaves stupidly questioned a decision and was yellow carded leaving only 13 men to finish the game.
A try followed giving the visitors a bonus win that flattered them with Ponte paying the price for their indiscipline. They had been good until the final crazy 10 minutes where they conceded several penalties and two yellow cards.
In a game that could have been won, despite the changes, it did show that the club has got spirit and desire which contributed to an entertaining but frustrating match.
Wilson and Dunwell impressed on their debuts with thunderous tackling and bullocking runs. Dean was as accurate as ever and Boyd created opportunities that deserved more reward.
Castleford made it a hat-trick of victories against a game Burley side when they won 48-27 to continue their unbeaten start in Yorkshire Three.
They raced into a 24-3 lead in the first quarter, but allowed the visitors back into the game before steadying and scoring three late tries.
Castleford opened the scoring after five minutes when full-back Chris Brown took a long pass from outside-half Ian Mattison following early, sustained pressure. Mattison added the first of his six from six conversions.
A sliced kick from player-coach Daniel Price was then snapped up by winger Martin Dye who passed to Adam Chappell. Neat centre play between Chappell and Andy Ellis allowed Price to back-up and score at the side of the posts.
Burley centre Luke Gross reduced the arrears with a penalty before winger Mark Poppleton finished off a crisp, Castleford cross-field move to score wide out.
Poor defence allowed centre James Langtree to score, converted by Gross, and Mattison and Gross slotted penalties to make the interval score 24-13 to the home side.
Burley started the second half in a frenzy and blitzed Castleford with two quick converted tries, a second for Langtree before winger Richard Jolly put the visitors deservedly in the lead 24-27.
Mattison restored parity with a well struck penalty before Cas finally settled back to playing through their sets and retaining possession. Replacement prop Adam Brown steadied the front row allowing the backline to regain superiority.
A slick run around between Mattison and Ellis saw the centre ghost through under the sticks. Price cemented the fight-back with a quickly taken penalty followed by a snakey run to the posts before off-loading to prop Matthew Wrigglesworth for the score.
A kick through from Mattison then saw the full-back fumble, allowing winger Poppleton to pounce for his second try.
Castleford retained top spot in Yorkshire Three on this victory, but must not allow teams back into games when they have control if they are to do well in Yorkshire Three.
Knottingley suffered their second defeat of the season in Yorkshire Two, but did earn a bonus point although they were not at their best in losing 19-12 at home to Barnsley.
Guilty of conceding silly penalties, they were forced to defend for long periods and for more than 30 minutes had to play with 13 and 14 men with three yellow cards and a controversial red card handed out.
The opening exchanges went well as the hosts opened the scoring when a planned move from a line-out saw number eight Phil Worth dive over for an unconverted try.
But Barnsley hit back with a penalty and took the lead with a try then another penalty to be ahead 11-5 at the break.
Knottingley were down to 13 men in the second half and again reliant on their defence. They were breached as a try put the visitors further ahead.
The game remained littered with penalties and it was not until late on that the hosts closed the gap when the pack laid the platform for prop Steven Berry to crash over. Steven Rockett’s conversion ensured a bonus point.
Pontefract Pumas snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as they lost 35-21 to Wath Upon Dearne thirds.
Up against well drilled opponents, they fell behind, but responded with the try of the game, Colin Swift, Adam Houchin, Kev Cording, Danny Burton and Andy Walker combining to send Mark Edwards over for a try converted by Cording.
Tom Chester was next to go over with Cording goaling and debutant Joe Morgan showed great strength to wriggle out of a tackle and race in.
With a 21-7 half-time lead the Pumas looked well placed, but Wath slowly clawed their way back into the game and drew level. Ponte still had opportunities to seal victory with Nathan Randall almost scoring from an Edwards kick.
However, two tries at the death for the visitors left them cursing the missed chances.