WETHERBY BULLDOGS suffered their first defeat of the season away to SHERBURN BEARS on Saturday, in a crushing 53-16 loss.
Sherburn, who lost their first ever Pennine League Six game against Wetherby on the opening day of the season came looking for revenge and went at the league leaders with gusto from the first whistle.
The Bulldogs, who have been on a rampage since that first game, winning five further games and mostly in a resounding fashion, met their match last weekend, particularly during the second half when Sherburn effectively killed off the game with three tries in succession.
Wetherby coach Andy Hunter said: “To be fair to Sherburn, they played well. They ran well, they wanted to win it more and we turned up a little half-cocked, a little half-hearted really.
“We only turned up with 11 men, and one injured player who came along to watch ended up putting his boots on and playing, so we went there with no substitutes at all.”
The Bulldogs now face a week off and Hunter hopes it will be a good time for his team to reflect and ideally return to the form that saw them climb to the top of the Pennine Six league table.
“This could be the make or break of us as a team to be honest,” said Hunter,
“It will either gee us up to do better or make us lose our confidence.
“We haven’t got a game this weekend so it gives us two weeks to get things right again.”
Bulldogs’ day started out ominously conceding a try in the opening minute when Joel Booth broke through some half-hearted tackles and ran the length of the pitch to score with Steve Wood adding the conversion.
Sherburn piled on the pressure attacking uphill and forcing a second try when prop Lewis Booth crashed over and Wood added the extra points.
Sherburn’s third score came on 25 minutes with Wood taking the points himself and then adding the conversion to give Bears an 18-0 lead.
Wetherby seemed to wake up then and showed the class that put them on top of the league, when a spell of indiscipline and loose possession on Sherburn’s part saw Wetherby rack up three sets on the home team’s line.
A good wide pass saw Wetherby finally break through and Ash Davies crossed the line for their first try, which they unfortunately failed to convert.
Sherburn struck back immediately, with a series of passes creating an overlap and captain Martin Leahy crossing out wide to score with no conversion to make the scores 22-4.
Wetherby rallied and centre Matt Savage created a break to score, with Mikes Selves converting.
Intent on making their mark on the half, Sherburn pushed again and Wood kicked a drop-goal to take his side in 23-10 on the half.
Attacking down the slope in the second half, Bears applied pressure from the kick off.
But it was Wetherby that scored first after Wood missed a grubber kick and Wetherby recovered setting up hooker Jordan Fiddes to score under the sticks and set up a conversion to make it 23-16 and bring the game back to life.
Sherburn were equal to the pressure though and proceeded to kill off the game, with Booth, Lewis Booth, Jason Kavanagh and then Craig Baker crossing over and Wood converting twice to make the score 43-16 with 60 minutes played.
Wetherby were wilting in the face of the onslaught now with their defence look distinctly weary.
Winger Stu Gowd was next to take advantage on 73 minutes crashing over for a try with no conversion to make it 47-16.
Lewis Booth went over for the final try of the day with Wood adding the extras to make the final score 53-16.
Hunter said: “Sherburn deserved the win definitely, they have got a big pack and a big team and I’ll take nothing away from them.
“They played well on Saturday, and they have a good crowd and good support at their ground.
“I’m hoping that we can draw them in the cup and get our own back over them.”
He added that he thought poor preparation and a depleted squad had let his team down on the day.
“We have got the skills and we have got the speed, but on Saturday, we just ran out of steam,” said Hunter.
“It was clear in the second half that their confidence was certainly rising and ours was falling.”