Old Brodleians suffered a second home defeat in eight days yesterday when their inexperienced front row were no match for their Middlesbrough counterparts in a 27-12 defeat.
The gap between the fifth and sixth-placed pair in Yorkshire One was widened from one point to six as the Acklam Park outfit banked a four-try bonus point with two minutes left.
Fittingly, Matthew Todd’s second try of the game came on the back of an advancing scrum, an area in which the visitors had total supremacy against a side lacking front row regulars Bennie Pritchett and Jay Dahlinger.
Middlesbrough’s extra strength and know how was also apparent as they held up Brods ball carriers in the maul on at least six occasions to guarantee further possession from the subsequent scrums.
Brods, beaten for the first time at home in the league this season by Scarborough a week earlier, led 7-5 at half time, having had the slope and breeze in their favour.
Middlesbrough edged in front with an Andy Baggett penalty and although stand-off Dan Cole’s second try of the match - a fine individual effort - put the home side ahead again, the visitors always appeared to have matters in hand.
Two tries in five minutes at the start of the final quarter took MIddlesbrough clear before Todd’s finale.
Brods fielded possibly their first choice backs line-up but on the heavy winter pitches there is more emphasis on the forwards and the home front row of Joe Seeley and brothers Peter and George Ashton found it a steep learning curve.
In a rather sterile first half, Brods scrum half Gareth Newman had a rush of blood and cost his side three points when he took a quick tap penalty in front of the posts and threw out a poor pass.
Cole’s kicks gave Brods a territorial advantage but Middlesbrough took the lead from their first attack on 19 minutes when Todd forced his way over for an unconverted try after his side had taken a scrum against the head.
The home side replied on 25 minutes when the much improved Cole ran between two defenders and shrugged off another tackler to touch down just to the left of the posts. Phil Town converted for a two-point lead.
Middlesbrough’s flying left winger Sean Moloney was brought back for a forward pass as he hared towards the corner. Brods’ Chris Vine then surged over half way but the visitors’ cover was good.
There was no lack of effort from Brods, with some shuddering hits from centre Matt Carbutt and forceful running from forwards Pete Williams and Laurie Hamer, but Baggett kicked the visitors 8-7 up on 49 minutes.
It was hard to imagine how Brods were going to reply but Cole came up with the answer seven minutes later. Sent away by Newman, he wrong-footed the defence with a brilliant dummy and showed good pace on a 60 metre dash to the line. Town was unable to convert but Brods led 12-8.
Middlesbrough’s match-winning 14-point burst started with Baggett forcing his way over from close range. Brods full back Matty Hoyle then unwisely showed Moloney the outside and the fleet-footed winger was round him in a flash. Baggett added both conversions for a 22-12 lead on 68 minutes.
The game was up for the home side and Todd rubbed salt into their wounds with an unconverted try, a reward for his good support play.