IT Is not an over-simplification to say that Baildon lost this semi-final in the first ten minutes.
Playing up the Jenny Lane slope, the mid-table Yorkshire Division Three hosts conceded three tries to trail Yorkshire Division Four leaders Skipton 19-0.
Left winger Joshua Smith, right winger Jamie Baker and full back Matthew Langstaff all crossed Baildon’s line, with experienced fly half Carl Patterson adding two conversions.
To that early onslaught, they added a Patterson penalty, and he also converted Smith’s second try in first-half stoppage time.
Baildon’s only response was a try by right winger Ricky Powell and, although they managed two tries by left winger Luke Strauss in the second half, their last try by full back Matty Robinson, to which fly half JJ O’Connell added a drop-kicked conversion, came with the final play of the match, leaving them no time to seek the converted try they needed to force extra-time.
“We probably won it in the first ten minutes, but the try just before half-time was also crucial,” said Skipton’s former Baildon coach Dave Duxbury.
“We showed all that was good about Yorkshire Division Four and then all that was bad about Yorkshire Division Four, and Baildon probably did the same regarding Yorkshire Division Three.”
Baildon prop Pete Lowth said: “The first 20 minutes didn’t help, but Baildon typically start slowly.
“We should have communicated better as a team, and the tries that we conceded were soft.”
Skipton’s former Keighley full back Matthew Langstaff added: “Dave Duxbury brings us structure and organisation as a coach, just as he had with Baildon, and we all know our game-plan.”
Baildon’s start could have been even worse had Patterson kicked a first-minute penalty after a high tackle.
But with Patterson, centre Jon Currie and Langstaff strong presences, Skipton did not have to wait long to rack up the points.
Powell’s try came in the 17th minute, a minute after flanker Harrison Strauss had had a try disallowed near the posts.
Smith was denied a try, after great work by Langstaff, for having a foot over the touch in-goal line, otherwise he could have had a first-half hat-trick.
Baildon, who had Lowth sin-binned for handling on the floor and scrum half Jack Aaron injured at the same time just before Skipton’s fourth try, needed something to happen quickly in the second half.
O’Connell’s interception set up the position for Luke Strauss’ try five minutes after the resumption, which was just what the Baildon doctor ordered.
The hosts then survived the sin-binning of centre Matt Withers without conceding any points, and Luke Strauss’ second try after 62 minutes set up an exciting finale, making the score 29-15.
As the game drew to a close, Skipton had prop Aaron Tattersall-Jarvis sin-binned by referee Mike Dickinson.
The match then became messy as Baildon No 8 Will Tomlinson got away with a head-butt on Langstaff when Patterson was prone with a head injury.
‘Afters’ then rather set in before Baildon full back Matty Robinson danced his way over with 15 seconds remaining and, although O’Connell drop-kicked the conversion to save time, there was no time for them to restart.
Skipton had thus reached the final, where they will play either Aireborough, Old Otliensians, Leeds Corinthians or Knottingley.
Patterson, who can number Cleckheaton and Yarnbury among his former clubs, and even reached Twickenham with Yarnbury, would like another taste of HQ.
He spent some of the closing minutes at Jenny Lane on his knees with what looked like a head injury, but he had recovered sufficiently after the final whistle to say: “I am 38 next month and am getting too old for this!
“But we want to win this competition to qualify us for the RFU Junior Vase next season so that I can retire at Twickenham!”