THE Yorkshire One derby between Old Brodleians and Heath ended in frustration for the players and spectators and pain for the visitors’ Will Nicholson.
The game between the early-season strugglers was building towards a tense conclusion, with Heath leading 12-10 after 67 minutes, when back rower Nicholson suffered a suspected broken ankle.
Play was suspended but when there was no sign of medical help after almost 50 minutes, the game was abandoned, a responder eventually arriving to assess the prone Nicholson exactly an hour after play had been halted.
The county committee must now decide whether the result will stand, as has been the case in some matches which have gone past the hour mark, or the game replayed due to the closeness of the scoreline.
Brods coach John Cole felt his side were gaining momentum at the time play was halted, after looking likely to be swept aside early in the second half, while his Heath counterpart Kevin Plant thought his side would have remained in front playing down the Woodhead slope.
Quality rugby, and fluent back play in particular, was in short supply from two much-changed teams this season.
Brods made the early running and took the lead after eight minutes against visitors down to 14 men after Giles Hetherington had snuffed out the first home attack with a high tackle on scrum half Ian Mallard and been yellow carded.
Rob Jennings did a fair impression of the hosts’ usual No 8, the injured Luke Scrimshaw, when he muscled his way over from 15 metres after picking up from the base of a scrum. Danny Wood converted.
Heath gained a penalty from the restart and dominated possession and position for much of the remainder of the half with livewire Hetherington calling the shots behind his forwards.
They made it 7-7 on 21 minutes when Hetherington’s perfectly-weighted chip through enabled young centre Sam Pollard to touch down behind the posts, fullback Charlie Lomas converting.
Heath continued to press through solid forward play but were met by stern Brods’ resistance, on a couple of occasions back on the try line.
That failure to press home their advantage seemed unlikely to matter when Heath took just one minute on the second half to hit the front.
Lomas’s fine run on the right had the defence at sixes and sevens and Heath moved the ball across the field for winger Luke Clogher to finish with a swallow dive.
Lomas was off target with the conversion and then surprisingly missed an easy 45th minute penalty after Chilean winger Carlos Pradenas had tripped Hetherington and been sin-binned.
Kyle Millward combined with Jennings to lift the siege on 55 minutes and Brods, retaining the ball much better, were rewarded on 61 minutes when Wood’s straight 30 metre penalty found the target.
The home side might even have regained the lead if centre Gareth Standeven had been able to cling on to an inside pass near the corner flag, after lock Lee Scrimshaw’s strong burst had helped set up the position.
Play had returned to the middle of the field when Nicholson was injured and the game prematurely brought to an end.