Sharper Attack but Leakier Defence
By Mark Purvis
Baildon found a cutting edge to claim a try scoring bonus point but lapses in concentration and discipline proved costly
There is nothing quite as irritating as a stag do in the rugby season and, not for the first time this season, Baildon traveled without key players available. Nevertheless the Cas warm up seemed tepid in comparison to the depleted visitors, who looked relaxed but focused and "on it" in their warm up.
Baildon raced into a 17-0 lead in the first twenty minutes. Cas unable to string together phases, where Baildon were fluent and accurate.
Tom Parnell was the first on the score sheet when he spotted the defence coming up flat; he chipped, collected and raced into the corner. (0-5)
Josh Strauss made yards up the blind side, Dan Cookson carried and Tom Parnell again teased the Cas defence who could only pull him down with a high tackle. The penalty shot at goal drifted wide.
Another high tackle earned a penalty that was tapped quickly by Tom Parnell. Jake Duxbury looked like he might make it into the corner but was tackled. Duxbury offloaded to Dannny Pollard who was also tackled short of the try line. A penalty for Baildon holding on to the ball in the tackle gave Cas temporary respite. Indeed Cas managed to press up to Baildon's line through a good kick chase game. Baildon weathered the storm and stole line out ball on the Cas throw to find an exit.
Cas kicked again but the ball was caught by Phil Wilson on the full. You don't often see Phil get up a full head of steam but. like a jumbo jet thundering down the runway, Wilson approached take off velocity. With spectators screaming "to infinity and beyond", just as he approached the smallest person on the Cas team Wilson chipped! It was actually a good kick, with a Baildon chase that put the Cas defence under pressure.
Cas knocked on. From the Baildon scrum Jake Duxbury saw space in the corner and kicked wide. Matty Wilson ran on to the kick, collected and dotted down in the corner. Duxbury converted from the touchline. (0-12)
Cas were unable to kick the ball ten metres at the restart and Baildon had a scrum on half way. From the scrum Paul MacNamara picked up at number eight, drew defenders and released his scrum half James O'Ryan. O'Ryan fed Jake Duxbury who crossed. (0-17)
Whilst Cas had the ability to put themselves in the right parts of the park through territorial long kicks, the home side had shown no fluency in attack gifting knock ons and penalties. It was Baildon putting together the phases, finding a cutting edge with ball in hand. Tom Cluett's dancing feet also doing great work.
Rather than staying patient, pressurising the opposition into errors, Baildon now contrived to force the game. Where they should have "iced" the ball Baildon gave away soft penalties at the breakdown with hands in the ruck. Baildon also need to learn referee management. Cas were at risk of annoying the referee with constant appealing and calling for decisions, Baildon too often showed a tendency to question a decision after it was made. The referee sees what he sees and never changes decisions. The better course is to shut up, trust the man in the middle and let the whistler get on with his job.
Loss of focus let Cas back in with two scores before half time. The first try was aided by Baildon tackles that went too high (5-17) and the second try was a number eight pick up from a 5 metre scrum (12-17 HT)
The key to winning the second half was surely going to be game management: playing in the right areas of the pitch and improved discipline.
Baildon were to concede four tries, give away multiple penalties and have to play for ten minutes with fourteen men courtesy of a yellow card that, to be fair, had been coming. In addition to writing notes for the match report, your reporter was updating the whatsapp group for the benefit of the Baildon stag party somewhere in the Canaries, precise island open to some debate thanks to Tom Stanley's appalling geographical knowledge. I had messaged "feels like we are going to get a yellow card" ten minutes before we got one, Chris Peel the unlucky recipient for a tackle that was indeed high, but the card probably reflecting the number of penalties against the visitors rather than any malice in the tackle.
These are the signs that we are about to go a player down due to a yellow card: players stopping to tie up boot laces whilst the ball is in play, players coming out of the defensive line and leaving gaps to engage in handbags when the ball is live, players lying on the ground after missing a tackle as if paralysed by an invisible lightning bolt.
Field position was gifted through penalties.
Cas scored a penalty try when a would be try scorer was tackled high. (19-17)
Another off first phase possession when our backs "bit in" to create an overlap. (24-17)
Another when our defence went walkabout to engage in handbags. (31-17)
Another when we decided to tackle with embarrassing hand slaps into the air. (38-17)
Then, as inexplicably as Baildon's lapse, the revival. Tackles made. Turnovers won. Focus regained.
Baildon won a penalty on their own 22. Everyone on the Cas team expected the kick to be directed to the near touchline. But Jake Duxbury had seen the space and James O'Ryan lurking. Duxbury put in a siege gun cross field kick and James O'Ryan timed his run perfectly, ignoring desperate cries of "offside" from the home supporters. O'Ryan collected, drew the last defender and fed inside to Danny Pollard who was in under the posts for the try bonus point. The conversion was drop kicked with Baildon's suddenly added urgency. (38-24)
For the final ten minutes it was all Baildon. Throwing the ball about like it was a basketball match rather than a game of rugby, some of the accuracy went, but the concentration did not. Baildon chased lost causes and forced errors. Chinny Tomlinson chased a kick and forced a knock on. Dan Cookson had a run towards the line but was held up short. Ollie Williams thought he might have seen space and chipped to the corner. The try that might have given a second bonus point had the deficit been narrowed to seven points never came. The last Baildon attack was ended with a harsh penalty for Baildon holding on to the ball when it looked more like it was a Cas tackler that was going for the ball having not released the Baildon player. (38-24 FT)
Baildon can only look to themselves for the soft tries conceded, but the bonus point for four tries was fair reward for a good team effort, especially the first twenty and the last ten.
A particular thanks to the younger players who, to a man, did themselves great credit. Ollie Murphy was a handful all match, Ollie WIlliams, Matty Wilson and Jake Ruff played with composure and a maturity above their years.
Leon Taylor gets a mention for his ankle injury, sustained at Bumbles training but limiting his input from the touchline.
Thanks Cas for the wonderful post match hospitality. Thanks to both sets of supporters and our match officials, including our touch judge Chris Williams.