Leeds Akkies 24 Scarborough Pirates 30
A Craig Farrell brace on his long-awaited Scarborough Pirates debut sealed a superb victory.
The former Hull KR star used all his experience to boss the game from stand-off, creating space and feeding his backs Craig Marsden, Jack Johnson, Oli Battye and Tom Jenkinson on numerous occasions to race free and put pressure on the home side.
The Pirates started well, with bursts from Dave Douthwaite and Alex Conlin giving the Akkies a taste of things to come.
Playing up the slight gradient in the first half, in blistering sunshine, the home side were to open the scoring on 15 minutes with a quick play working wide right for winger Tom George to go over.
The visitors re-grouped and gained momentum, moving the ball out down the line at every opportunity.
Tom Ratcliffe at scrum-half fed Farrell quickly and his vision saw him pop up a lovely ball for loose forward Martin Robinson to crash over to level the scores.
A body blow to coach Chris Keld’s game plans came seconds later, with prop Dan Stanley imping off with an ankle injury. In the hot sun, this would put pressure on the remaining forwards to deliver the result.
Farrell got into his stride after a number of years out of rugby league, to spring open the Akkies back-line. A quick side step and change of direction saw the ball move rapidly through the hands of Robinson, Johnson and out to Marsden on the wing, who evaded two opponents to go over in the corner on 23 minutes.
Reggie Stirk and Dom Brining came on fresh legged to keep the pressure in the home side half. Adam Lee was unlucky to be held up in play, Marsden was put through again, but referee Andy Lawley judged the ball from full back Harry Sleep to be forward.
The pressure did pay off with giant second row forward Jim Thompson powering 20 metres. Before the home team good get back, Farrell scooped the ball and dived home for his first of the day. Ratcliffe converted to take the Pirates into a 10 point half time lead. 14-4.
Now up hill, with the temperature soaring, the Pirates had to call on some solid defending in the second period.
On 52 minutes the Akkies were penalised for a high challenge. Farrell played the ball to set up Stirk to wrestle clear of three tacklers to touchdown under the posts.
Ratcliffe kicked the goal, to extend the lead to 20-4.
Spurred by this early second-half score, the Pirates sailed on to add another score immediately with Ratcliffe spinning out a long pass for Farrell to dummy and slip in for his second of the day on 58 minutes.
Three minutes later centre Battye broke clear to bounce through two tackles to score out wide. Ratcliffe added the goal to extend the lead to 30-4.
Possibly thinking job done, the Pirates fell into disarray in the final quarter. Several unforced handling errors and penalties needlessly given away let in the Leeds lads back into the match.
Tries from Adam Senior, Steve Knowles, and Jim Oldridge, with two goals from George, bring the buoyant Akkies back in with a chance.
Coach Keld was relieved to hear the final whistle as his troops were dead on their feet.
Farrell was selected by Leeds Akkies as the Man of the Match, for a terrific first outing with the Pirates.
Team: Sleep, Marsden, Johnson, Battye, Jenkinson, Farrell, Ratcliffe, Conlin, Lee, Stanley, Douthwaite, Thompson, Robinson, D Brining, L Brining, A Sutton, Stirk, Backhouse