Farrell stars in Scarborough’s Shield win at Pontefract

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Scarborough RUFC earned a 20-13 second round Yorkshire Challenge Shield win at a soggy Pontefract on Saturday.

The main pitch at Pontefract was waterlogged and the game was moved to a remote paddock on the edge of the club’s Moor Lane headquarters.

However Scarborough continued to have the Indian sign over their opponents who slipped to their fourth consecutive defeat at the hand of the Seasiders who moved into the third round of the Yorkshire Challenge Shield.

Scarborough dominated the opening exchanges and camped deep in home territory thanks to some penetrative running from front-rowers Luke Raines and Nino Cutino ably assisted by centre Craig Farrell; they repeatedly got over the gain line but failed to capitalise on their pressure. However they did win a couple of early penalties which Tom Ratcliffe was unsuccessful with before the big centre landed a sweetly-struck effort 27 metres out on the Scarborough left for a 3-0 lead in the 16th minute. The score was a wake-up call for the west Yorkshiremen who levelled four minutes later when the visitors infringed 30 metres out and fly-half Jamie Benn made it 3-3 with the kick.

Going into the second quarter Scarborough continued to look the more organized of the two sides and looked dangerous in possession especially when they moved the ball wide to their young wingers Matt Lucas and Matty Young.

However when the opening try of the game came it was through the middle with Farrell going on a powerful diagonal run to the line before popping a slick pass to Ratcliffe who went over for his 10th try of the season in the 25th minute. The big centre added the extras for 10-3.

Once again the Seasiders’ lead was short lived; having won a lineout just inside their own 22 they conceded turnover ball to ‘Ponte’ who moved the ball swiftly right to left infield for centre Matthew Bacon to score in the 27th minute. Benn converted for 10-10.

Having started well Scarborough’s lineout started stuttering and in the greasy conditions they struggled for possession from this source; however their offensive play at the breakdown unsettled the Pontefract midfield and when the west Yorkshiremen lost possession just inside their own half a kick through by Scarborough fly-half Phil Stewart turned the home defence. No8 Sam Warren and Pontefract wing Richard Dedicoat raced to get the touch; neither quite made it and wing Matty Young following up, touched down for his side’s second try in the 36th minute. Ratcliffe converted for a 17-10 Scarborough half-time lead.

Even with the rain abating, the deteriorating light and greasy playing surface made for a game which was pretty much stalemated in the middle of the park.

Scarborough could have extended their lead seven minutes after the break when a powerful run by Farrell released Young who powered up the left touchline only to be tackled inches from the line. However referee Richard Smith brought play back for a penalty as a Ponte player had infringed in the lead-up play and Ratcliffe kicked the difficult penalty from wide on Scarborough’s left to stretch the lead to 20-10 in the 49th minute.

Pontefract then had their best period of the match using their pack to execute some powerful driving mauls which really used the prevailing underfoot conditions. However the visitors defended doggedly with Cutino, Raines, Warren and particularly flanker Chris Purdy to the fore. Behind them Tom Harrison, Young, Farrell and halfbacks Stewart and Jake Rollison also played their part.

Having tried a couple of catch-and-drives from penalties, Pontefract kicked for goal the next time the visitors infringed and Benn reduced the arrears to seven points with a penalty on the hour.

Scarborough wrestled back the initiative in the fourth quarter using what possession they had and Farrell, Raines, Cutino and Young all went close. A Ratcliffe penalty rebounded from an upright and a long distance penalty attempt from Harrison just shaved the post. It was touch and go ‘til the end but a determined Scarborough side prevailed in the gathering gloom to win the game and earn a home tie with in-form Dinnington in the New Year.

In a ‘muck and nettles’ game Pontefract probably had the lion’s share of the territorial possession but the Seasiders looked organised throughout. Both sides asked no quarter on an afternoon not for the fainthearted.

For a Scarborough side which grafted for each other, Craig Farrell had a great day in attack and defence in the midfield with young winger Matty Young improving every week; he could easily have had another try to add to his first half touchdown and he put in at least two try-saving tackles. In the forwards, front-rowers Tom Fish, Luke Raines and Nino Cutino excelled with Chris Purdy making the hard yards and outstanding in defence.