Referee is man in the middle of after-match debate

Wharfedale Observer: Aireborough;s Ollie Catherall produces a fine tackle to halt the Baildon winger Nathan King in his tracks Aireborough;s Ollie Catherall produces a fine tackle to halt the Baildon winger Nathan King in his tracks
Aireborough 6 Baildon 17

The main talking point after this hard-fought Yorkshire Division Three derby was the performance of referee Pat Spicer.

Aireborough head coach Simon Carbutt admitted: “Baildon played the conditions better than us and played the referee better than we did.

“But while it would be going too far to say that he cost us the match, he definitely cost us the bonus point”

Carbutt, who felt that Aireborough were on the wrong end of most of Spicer’s decisions, was referring to Baildon’s 78th-minute try by Craig Woodhall that not only took the bonus point away but also the match from the hosts.

Baildon replacement Phil Wilson carried the visitors’ attack forward down the left-hand touchline and the whistler from Withernsea was unsighted when he passed to No 8 Woodhall.

Wilson’s short pass went forward but the referee was on the open side of the action and could not see through a mass of bodies. Carbutt added: “We played better in the first half but we didn’t play enough in their half or their 22 in the second half.

“However, Jonny Mackey played well for us at flanker, as did Martyn Booth at prop and Craig McLoughlin in the second row.

“Centre Will Marlow made a decent break for us in the second half but we couldn’t capitalise on it."

Baildon started off on the back foot, giving away two penalties inside the first seven minutes with both being kicked by Aireborough scrum half Chris Wray.

The visitors’ response was swift, however, Nathan King dancing down the right touchline two minutes later to set up Woodhall’s first try.

Fly half Nick Lister missed the conversion and a 12th-minute penalty after Woodhall was checked after kicking through.

That decision did not go down too well with the Aireborough faithful and neither did the shoulder barge that put left winger Stephen Nolson into touch in the 21st minute.

Fly half Nick Holdsworth’s left foot kept Aireborough going forward but it was Baildon who were threatening the try-line, home No 8 Luke Exley pulling off a fine try-saving tackle on flanker Tom Craven in the 29th minute.

Five minutes later, the visitors got their second try, full back JJ O’Connell making a break and left winger Richard Kingham, celebrating his 30th birthday, finishing it off, although Aireborough felt he had grounded the ball before the line.

Wray was short with a penalty in first-half injury time but the hosts, whose line-out functioned poorly, must have been disappointed at how seldom they threatened to score in the second half.

One meaningful attack in the 57th minute, inspired by Marlow, resulted in O’Connell intercepting and running as fast as he could on an increasingly gluepot-like pitch before putting in a decent kick that took play deep into home territory.

Nick Lister missed another kickable penalty in the 71st minute with Baildon only leading 10-6 and, after a brawl between the two packs, who were by now almost indistinguishable, Woodhall scored his controversial winning try.

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