It's not how you start...
Despite getting off to the best possible start, scoring a try inside the first minute,Barnsley proved too strong for injury hit West Park Leeds.
It had all started so well, Ben Griffiths intercepting inside the away half then offloading to Oliver Trace. The fly half found Stewart McLure in close support, the centre sweeping over on the left with barely a minute gone.
The game was being played at a frantic pace, both sides moving the ball quickly, trying to exploit the bone dry ground but making mistakes in the process. However, a long spell of Barnsley possession saw home centre Buckingham cross on the right, fly half Andrew Appleyard converting to give his side a short lived lead.
Number 8 Griffiths broke to the home 22 but the ball was turned over, the defender clearing to halfway. From the resulting lineout the ball was swiftly transferred left to winger Sam Booth who showed both power and pace to bump off several defenders on his way to score at the left corner.
The conversion attempt was again off target and the hosts’ power and strength began to tell as they scored four well worked tries to rattle up a halftime 33 v 10 lead. Forced by injuries to throw on all three replacements at halftime, the visitors could have been forgiven for capitulating in the second period. Instead, they took the game to their opponents, none more so than openside flanker Ian Stewart who easily topped the tackle count and also produced several punishing runs.
A strong run by winger Luke Gamble took play from his own 22 and fullback Andy Cromack chipped exquisitely to the corner to put the visitors on the attack. Several openings were created but the home defence was well organised and the final ball went down on more than one occasion. In contrast Barnsley were clinical, scoring on each of their two visits to away territory on 50 and 65 minutes.
West Park kept going right to the end, conceding yet another well worked team try, scored by the industrious home hooker, in the final minute but never letting their heads drop despite being outmatched for the greater part of the contest. On this form Barnsley will start as one of the hot favourites in next season’s promotion race, even if they miss out this time.
Whether West Park will be there to compete with them depends on the outcome of their remaining four league fixtures, starting with the visit of Doncaster Phoenix on Saturday.