Strong Pythons Defence Clinches Win at Castleford
The Pythons home fixture against Castleford was switched to away to accommodate The UCI pressure on Harrogate.
Dan Bird’s squad included 3 players on club debut. “ It’s fantastic to have new players come into the squad and challenge for places”, he commented before the game. “Cas are always a tough side especially at home, it will test these guys”, he added.
Castleford’s kick off was collected by Matt Leach with solid ball presented to Audsley–Beck who punted the ball deep into the opposition half. The referee spotted a home player offside giving Audsley-Beck a penalty, Pythons line out on The Castleford 22. A Castleford turn over on the second phase gave possession back to the home side and with typical slick handling, the Python’s defence was soon under pressure. Strong tackling from Will Clough and Luke Price-Gerrard frustrated the Castleford attack close to The Pythons line. Three penalties and a 10m concession for verbals gave the home side the advantage but their decision to tap and go against The Pythons defence, with committed tackles from Dan Harland, Sandy Dunlop and Hugh Tatlow, was something they later regretted. An off side on The Pythons 22 gave Audsley-Beck the ball, Pythons line out on half way.
Secure ball from Tatlow saw Castleford penalised for handling in the ruck. The ever alert Clough tapped and was tackled within 10m with the referee marching The Castleford defence back to their 10m line. The resulting line out deep in The Castleford 22 was again secured with The Pythons dominant pack driving closer to the line. The ball was moved quickly to debutant Ed Challis who was caught just short of the line. Off side at the ruck saw Clough on target, Pythons ahead 0-3 on 10 mins.
The Pythons continued to dominate the set piece with Clough working well at the base of the scrum. A penetrating kick from Clough towards the Castleford line led to an excellent clearance by the Castleford full back. Secure Pythons ball at the line out gave Leach a powerful run in midfield causing the home side to be caught off side again at the ruck. Clough’s tap gained him good yards Audsley-Beck kicked cleverly to pin Castleford back on their 5m line. Their clearance from the line out went deep into The Pythons half bringing debutant and Man of The Match Steve Youngson into the game with his first strong run back into the 22. The ball moved through 4 pairs of hands with Price-Gerrard outpacing the defence only to lose the ball in the tackle over the line. The resulting clearance for the 5m scrum gave Younson another opportunity to carry the ball back 30m and with a penetrating kick put Castleford back to their 5m line clearing well again from their line out.
With both sides determined in defence and strong in attack, Castleford threatened The Pythons line. After several phases, the home side spun the ball wide to touch down in the corner. The reliable full back added the extras, Castleford ahead 7-3 on 25mins.
With a Pythons attacking line out on the 22, Castleford were again caught off side. Clough tapped and quick hands led to a ruck on the 5m line. A fumbled ball at the back of the ruck gave a scrum where The Pythons were surprisingly penalised for a front row offence. Possession form the line out saw the Castleford full back make 30m with a mazy run. Stopped by a crunching tackle from Jon Pickard, Castleford were penalised for holding on. The resulting line gave Harland a run in midfield with a great line. An accidental clash of heads stopped the game with both players thankfully able to continue after close attention from both club physios. Quick hands from The Pythons between Sharp and Challis put Ollie Wheatley into space. His attempted chip ahead was just too heavy and crossed the dead ball line. The referee awarded a 22m drop out, returned with interest by the impressive Youngson.
Third debutant Sam Beagrie replaced Harland at half time and quickly showed his enthusiasm at the break down. Youngson’s run from deep set up a ruck and Clough carried the ball into the Castleford 22. Castleford were penalised for a high tackle and given a final warning from the referee. The Pythons opted for the scrum and after 3 resets and 2 penalties Price-Gerrard scored a pushover try. Clough added the extras Pythons ahead 7-10 on 50 minutes. For offering advice to the referee the Castleford number 4 received a yellow card.
The home side came back at The Pythons with their hard running number 8 breaking tackles in mid field and being felled by sub Ivan Drane with a textbook tackle. Secure line out ball passed to Drane, now at scrum half, put Beagrie into space with a determined 20m run. A spilled pass into touch gave Castleford possession on half way. A turn over at the line out led to a high tackle on Sharp and another final warning from the referee. Seconds later a high tackle on Price-Gerrard gave Castleford their second yellow card and Wolfram kicked the penalty, Pythons ahead 7-13 on 60 mins.
Castleford pressurised the Pythons line from the kick off and were held out with resolute tackling from Beagrie, Shortman and Adam Challis. Strong running from Nathan Wake and Steve Smith put Beagrie in the open gaining 40 yards. Play passed through several phases with The Pythons penalised for holding on in the Castleford 22 after ignoring a 2 man overlap. Castleford again applied pressure in The Pythons half and amidst some brutal tackling from Tatlow and Challis, Shortman received a yellow card for entering a ruck from the side. Within minutes Harland was alleged to handle the ball off his feet at the breakdown and The Pythons were down to 13 men.
Castleford opted to scrum a line out offence on The Pythons 5m line. Tatlow drove back the bullocking Castleford number 8 with Audsley-Beck hacking the spilled ball to the 10m line. Castleford were quickly back on The Pythons line and were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Unable to challenge the Pythons pack they opted to tap releasing their strong runners. Dunlop halted the first phase with a shuddering tackle and again at the second phase causing the Castleford player to lose the ball over the line.
Shortman returned for the scrum and the ball cleared to touch beyond the 22. Hard work by Smith at the line out pulled the Castleford maul into touch. Secure line out ball and several careful phases ran out the last minute with Drane kicking the ball into touch. Pythons deserved winners of a hard fought game 7-13.
After the game Head Coach Dan Bird said “This was a great squad performance. Each player 1-20 played a huge role in ensuring our defence remained dominant for the full 80 and this was the difference at the final whistle. For some lads, this was their first showing as a Python and their commitment and passion to play for the shirt was also really positive. Every week is a huge week now in our drive for promotion. “
The Pythons next fixture is the 5th October away at in form Baildon.