You could forgive Scarborough fans for being slightly apprehensive of travelling to bottom club Acklam on the back of three successive defeats in the league
As it turned out, the visitors eased to a comfortable bonus point win, avoiding a potential banana skin and possibly kick-starting their season back into gear.
Scarborough made several changes to the team that played at York last week.
Undoubtedly the biggest team news came in the form of the returning Corey Dennis, Scarborough’s player of the year last season.
Matthew Oxtoby returned from holiday to take his place on the bench and a late change brought Tom Ratcliffe into the side for Matty Young, who dropped to the second team.
This proved to be a master stroke from coach Lee Douglas, as Ratcliffe put in one of his finest performances in a Scarborough shirt.
Scarborough started the match with a strong wind behind them, and blew the host side away in the first 20 minutes of the game.
It took little over three minutes for Scarborough’s class with the ball in hand to show.
A poor scrum from the visitors in their own half left Jake Rollinson with his only option to ship the ball to a stationary Tom Ratcliffe. The winger made the best of a bad situation, slipping through a couple of poor Acklam tackles to break clear.
He was finally dragged down metres from the line, but offloaded to a supporting Graeme Jeffrey who dived into the corner for a try.
Ratcliffe converted from the touchline for 7-0.
Shortly after this it became apparent that in-form Scarborough fly-half, Tom Harrison, was struggling with a leg injury, choosing his left foot to kick for touch as Acklam put him under pressure.
However, when Scarborough ventured up to the Acklam 22 just after the 10 minute mark, he put his troubles behind him. Receiving the ball from a well worked lineout Harrison stepped across the home defence and threw an inside pass where Ratcliffe was waiting.
Hitting the line at speed, he coasted straight through a gap and under the posts for his first try, he converted the extras to take the score to 14-0.
A couple of minutes later the burly winger was converting another try of his own making.
After Scarborough had exerted considerable pressure, Acklam had managed to clear their lines into touch.
Fast thinking from Jan Tieber allowed Scarborough to take the line-out quickly and the ball was moved through the Scarborough hands.
When Ratcliffe received the ball he dummied outside and went straight through an Acklam defence that was becoming nothing short of lacklustre.
He scored under the posts, and the following conversion turned out to be his final one of the afternoon.
Credit must be given to Acklam for sticking to their task, despite Scarborough taking advantage of the wind to dominate both territory and possession early on.
The home side received a reward for their endeavour on 20 minutes when they scored a try in the corner from winger Andrew Dunn.
The Scarborough defence had looked comfortable repelling numerous Acklam phases in their own 22.
However, poor defending out wide led to an overlap and when Acklam moved the ball wide, not even the last ditch cover tackle of Corey Dennis could stop Dunn scoring.
The conversion was kicked wide and the score remained at 21-5.
The remainder of the half was a very scrappy affair. Scarborough looked to assert dominance up front but Acklam could not be faulted in their commitment to the tackle.
Above all, the conditions dominated and both teams’ play was littered with handling errors and penalty infringements. Scarborough had the better of the territory but looked panicky and indecisive at key moments, where Acklam had one clear break away but a committed covering tackle from Jake Rollinson put an end to any hope of another try.
At half-time the score was still 21-5.
Undoubtedly the shining light of the first half had been the Scarborough backline, who at times had looked a class above their Acklam counterparts.
The second half started in a similar vein although this time it was the bulldozing Billy Parker punching holes in the Acklam defence, with Dennis and Ratcliffe always looking threatening.
Scarborough had a great chance early in the second half when a strong run from Ratcliffe beat several defenders, the ball was moved inside to Harrison, who had his pass slapped down with the line begging and the chance was gone.
Having failed to secure a bonus point so many times this season, when the clocked ticked to 60 minutes, it may have been in the back of Lee Douglas’ mind that a fourth try would never come.
Luckily Tom Harrison was not in the mood to let that happen. Brilliant quick thinking and a change of direction in the play from the fly-half left Acklam outnumbered on the short side in their own half.
The ball was moved through the hands for Ratcliffe who cruised over to seal his hat-trick. Into the wind any conversion in this half for the winger was doubtful and he was unable to add to his 21-point haul.
The final quarter of the game saw the Scarborough pack come to life.
Aggressive running from Nino Cutino and Chris Purdy, with Nick Ingham constantly offering himself to take the ball on, decimated a tiring Acklam pack. Cutino received his reward for his tireless effort when Scarborough were awarded a penalty close to the home line.
Harrison took a quick tap and popped the ball to the monstrous prop who smashed through the home defence to get the ball down. After a missed conversion the score was 31-5.
Acklam continued to show fight, but the Scarborough pack was now showing superiority in both the scrum and the loose.
On a very windy, difficult day for hooker Ian Williams the Scarborough lineout looked strong and it was Cutino who was the beneficiary of this.
He scored two tries coming from driving line-outs to give him a hat-trick in only his second match back after injury.
Both were carbon copies of each other, with a perfect throw from Williams hitting his mark, and a powerful drive from the Scarborough pack sending ‘The Lion’ Cutino over.
Acklam came back at Scarborough for the last few minutes, desperately searching for a consolation point and pinning the visitors back on their line.
It was not to be however, and Scarborough kicked the ball from play, leaving the field victorious at 41-5.
The old saying goes you can only beat who is put in front of you and this needs to be stressed to people attending this game.
Scarborough showed dogged determination in tough conditions, and while there were infuriating error strewn periods there were also moments of brilliance that proved just too good for Acklam. All in all a deserved win.