ON their first appearance at Silver Royd since November last year Scarborough ground out a valuable 3-0 victory against high-flying York on a pitch recovering from seven weeks of ice and snow and rain that only stopped hours before the kick-off.
Scarborough took the game to York from the off, determined to make a better start than they had in the corresponding game at Clifton Park earlier in the season when the conceded a couple of tries in the opening quarter.
With the ball like a bar of wet soap and the temperature falling as soon as the skies cleared, a running, handling game seemed unlikely and skipper Nick Ingham’s men played to their strengths through the forwards with the front row of Paul Taylor, Ian Williams and Jason Lowde knocking the stuffing out of the visiting defence with a series of bullocking runs.
Augmenting this from behind, the home back row in the form of Chris Lee, Chris Purdy and the irrepressible Louis Karl ensured that the Minster-men played most of the opening quarter on the back foot.
Scarborough’s domination up front should have seen a steadier supply of clean ball for the backs, however the ball coming back was at times so slow that the likes of Craig Farrell and Bill Parker in the home mid-field found it difficult to penetrate a defensive line given time to regroup.
However what running rugby was on offer came from Scarborough with ball won on halfway and moved through hands mostly right to left and on three occasions only good cover defence from the visitors kept them out.
Coach Dave Beck’s men also had a couple of penalty chances in the second quarter but fly-half ‘TH’ Grace’s range-finder was malfunctioning and both efforts failed to hit the target.
But in his defence it was a difficult day for kickers on the very greasy surface.
In a fairly disciplined game York Prop James Mulroney was sent to the sin bin by referee Graeme Hall a minute later for repeatedly diving off his feet at the ruck.
And it looked as if the visitors had survived to the break without conceding, only for Grace to slot a penalty for a 3-0 lead on the stroke of half-time when they infringed on their own 22.
Scarborough started the second half with Phil Stewart on for Farrell who aggravated a knee injury in the first half: Deina Morete moved from scrum-half to centre with Stewart replacing him at number nine but the pattern of the game continued with the home eight bossing the forward exchanges especially at the scrummage where they constantly wheeled their less co-ordinated opponents.
Paul Taylor who was having a cracker of a game was sin-binned for persistently diving into rucks off his feet in the 57th minute and Scarborough brought on veteran Tom Fish to replace him with number eight Chris Lee being substituted.
Scarborough enlivened the home crowd with a series of punishing rolling mauls driving the visitors back into their own 22 but just couldn’t find the penetration to get that clinching try in the final quarter.
Some good handing between forwards and backs took them deep into the York 22 and produced an attacking scrum 10 metres out in front of the posts.
However for the first time in the game York took one against the head and a howitzer-like clearance from Cawthorn took them to halfway.
Both sides battled on as the temperature plummeted and sub Jaxon Tite on for Lee when Taylor returned to action, raised the temperature with a big hit on his opposite number Sam Thorpe.
With nine minutes to go Scarborough infringed 30 metres from their own line in the middle of the Paddock and it was odds on that Cawthorn would level the scores, however the big fly-half’s effort fell short and was fielded by Fish who was almost decapitated by a high tackle ‘executed’ by a York player following up.
Mr Hall missed the tackle but sin-binned Fish for persistent off-side five minutes later and awarded York a penalty just inside the Scarborough 22 just the left of the posts.
A beautifully controlled final three minutes saw the home forwards move the ball up the right flank with a series of pick-ups, drives and rucks to wind down the clock clearing the short distance to touch to end the game.
For Scarborough it was a forwards day and the Scarborough eight turned in a powerful, cohesive performance with a solid front five and a hard tackling back row.
Man-of-the-match Paul Taylor and Louis Karl took the plaudits for their industry.
Behind them on a day of frozen fingers and toes fullback Graeme Jeffery and young wingman Rob Squire were the pick of a hard-working back division.
Scarborough: Jeffrey, Squire, Parker, Farrell, Domett, Grace, Morete ,Lowde, Williams, Taylor, Ingham(capt), Else ,Purdy, Karl, Lee. Subs: Tom Fish, Phil Stewart, Jaxon Tite (all used 2nd half)