Following a disappointing and disjointed first half after which they trailed by 17 points, Scarborough battled back to level the scores with an injury-time try. However in their glee they lost concentration and focus and were sucker-punched when visitors York scored the clinching try with the last play of the game to edge it 24-17.
With four players unavailable and the experienced Graeme Jeffrey nursing a hand broken in training on Tuesday, Scarborough’s much re-shuffled side struggled from the off against an organized York outfit. However newcomer Eamon Chapman at No8 made his presence felt immediately with a crunching tackle on York flanker Jeff Meredith, stopping his man and turning over possession.
With the exception of Chapman, the Seasiders’ back row struggled to get into the game, exposing scrumhalf Jordi Wakeham and limiting their attacking ambitions. It was no surprise therefore when the ‘Minstermen’ took the lead in the seventh minute; winning the ball in midfield and moving it wide for Meredith to score wide on the right for a 5-0 lead. Centre Jon Dawes hit the upright with his conversion attempt from the touchline.
Although the home eight had things their way at the set scrums, they struggled in the open where York bossed the breakdown. And when a bullocking run through the middle by lock Brian Hepworth opened up a flimsy-looking Scarborough midfield defence, hooker Shane Goulding powered over for the visitor’s second try in the 19th minute. Dawes added the extras to stretch the lead to 12-0.
At the point at which it looked as if York might rattle up a huge score, the likes of Ian Williams, Mark Hopper, Paul Taylor and Chapman dug deep to keep their side in the game and consequently the ebullient Harry Domett and fullback Corey Dennis began to pose a threat for the visitors. However York’s astute and organised defence held sway.
With half-time rapidly approaching it looked as if Scarborough had weathered the storm and would go to the break with a manageable deficit. However, having secured a strike against the head at a scrum in their own 22, they infringed; York full-back Toby Atkin took a quick tap and strolled through a crowd of Scarborough players to score a try gifted to him by a lack of concentration in the home ranks. Dawes missed the conversion but York led 17-0 at the break.
I’m not privy to Lee Douglas’ halftime talk but whatever he said Scarborough seemed to be an entirely different side in the second forty minutes. From the start they dominated the forward battle and drove the York pack backward at every scrum. A series of scrums in which the home eight held the ball in and marched the visitors back meant that the York back-row which had dominated in the first half were bound-on for longer and Wakeham and Chadwick had more freedom to get their backline going.
And it was Domett and Dennis, the stand out players in the back division, who kicked off the fight-back in the 50th minute; under pressure in their own 22 the visiting pack eventually won the ball at their own put-in and Dawes hoofed it downfield only to find Harry Domett on the York ten metre line. The bustling wingman powered inside taking two men with him before releasing Dennis who had joined the line wide on the left, to power over in the corner. Chadwick missed the touchline conversion.
And the Seasiders should have had a further try minutes later when a lovely break from Tom Chadwick released new boy Chapman, With the line at his mercy the big number eight snatched at the pass and the chance had gone. The pressure from the home forwards was now unrelenting and a York prop was yellow carded for pulling the scrum down. Scarborough was awarded a series of penalties from scrum infringements and chose a scrummage on every occasion thus wearing their opposite numbers down.
A great defensive effort from the visitors kept them in the game but following some good work by the Scarborough midfield, skipper Tom Ratcliffe broke away to score in the 72nd minute to reduce the arrears to seven points at 10-17. Chadwick was again unsuccessful with his conversion attempt. This score led to a tumultuous finish to the game with Scarborough shunting the York forwards backwards and their front row collapsing the scrum. And when referee Mike Dickinson, not before time, eventually ran out of patience he awarded a penalty try and Chadwick converted to level the scores at 17-17 deep in injury time.
A great fight-back by Scarborough and honours even? Not so; York restarted and Scarborough with the job done should have drilled the ball as far downfield as possible and closed out the game.
As it was they launched an up-and-under in their own half which barely made their own 10-metre line. A run and deft chip ahead by Josh Britland bounced in front of three Scarborough defenders who looked on with distracted bemusement as the York left winger gathered and went over for a well worked try. Dawes converted for a 24-17 win as a shell-shocked Scarborough side looked on in stunned disbelief.