Yorkshire One: Old Brodleians 5 Keighley 21

A SLATE grey sky, a temperature hovering around zero and a wet pitch were hardly conducive to open rugby – but the conditions could not spoil a fully committed contest in which Keighley’s overall superiority prevailed.

The notorious Brods slope held few demons for the energetic visitors, who made light of the home side’s first-half pitch advantage, penning them deep in their own territory for long spells.

Stand-off Alex Brown’s return after an injury lay-off added stability to the side and he edged Keighley ahead after five minutes with a penalty goal following a strong burst by centre Adam Horsfall, which forced an error in the ensuing tackle.

The home side failed to take advantage of their superiority in the line-outs and scrummages. Speculative downfield clearances were competently dealt with by Brown, full back Alfie Seeley and wingman Joe Copperwaite.

Attempts to run at Keighley’s midfield defence foundered in the face of fierce tackling by centres Ben Blackwell and Horsfall.

After a penalty attempt by Brown had rebounded off a post, Keighley maintained the pressure. Forward Dan Snowden was tackled into touch ten metres out and a rare clean take at a line-out set up a promising attack, which was spoiled by a knock forward.

Keighley’s efforts were, however, rewarded when Brown landed a second penalty following a high tackle.

The try the visitors deserved was soon forthcoming. A great touchline run by Copperwaite set up the score for the supporting Lucas Uren, with Brown adding a fine conversion.

With the game slipping away from them, Brods struck back powerfully. A dangerous mid-field break forced an attacking line-out ten metres out, setting up a powerful forward drive which allowed prop Reece Ward to peel off and score.

Keighley’s anxieties were eased when, on the stroke of half-time, Brown extended their lead with another penalty.

The extreme conditions handicapped both sides in the second half. Cold fingers inevitably led to spilled passes.

While much of the play took place in the Brods half, Keighley were unable fully to exploit the slope advantage in the face of spirited rearguard action.

Eventually the stalemate was broken when a well-flighted kick to the corner by Brown was taken by wingman Jack Atkinson. The ball was quickly worked to acting centre Alan Ebbrell, who crossed for the second try, Brown’s conversion attempt bouncing back off the cross bar.

Keighley’s task was done and a notable double over a higher-placed side was achieved. In an all-round resilient display, special mention should be made of the work of Snowden, Josh Hannah and old war horse Leigh Sugden in the pack, while Copperwaite was the pick of an efficient back division.

The Utley men will be keen to continue their good form on Saturday at home to Halifax side Heath (2.15pm)