Scarborough bounced back from last week’s heavy defeat at Bridlington with a controlled and committed performance to record their first league win of the season at Silver Royd.
Skipper Jason Lowde’s men took the game to York from the start and piled on the pressure at the breakdown and when a visiting tackler failed to roll away, fly-half Tom Harrison exacted the appropriate punishment for a 3-0 lead with two minutes on the clock. The Seasiders then lost the services of flanker Jaxon Tite with a leg injury and Luke Raines took his place in the back row.
Coach Dave Beck’s charges dominated territorial possession from early on and it was a surprise when the visitors levelled the scores with a penalty 30 metres on a rare incursion into the Scarborough half, Flyhalf Jon Dawes thumping over a well-struck kick when centre Paul White was caught offside in the 10th minute. Scarborough appeared to have taken a leaf out of Ireland’s book and pressurised York all over the paddock.
Harrison’s howitzer kicking constantly turned the visitors defence and testing kicks by veteran Bill Freeman at scrum-half kept the pressure on. The inclusion of Craig Farrell added steel to the Scarborough midfield which was considerably more durable than recently and the former Rugby League star put is some bone crunching tackles for good measure.
The visitors struggled to get out of their own half and a hard-tackling midfield, some great marauding work by Harrison, Phil Watson and prop Nino Cutino pinned them back.
And the Seasiders just got reward for their efforts in the 18th minute when a great break by Harrison over halfway released winger Tom Ratcliffe who turned his opposite number Gareth Singleton inside and out before powering over for the opening try of the game wide on the right for 8-3. Harrison just pulled his conversion attempt.
The second quarter reflected the pattern of the first with the Seasiders pressing and York unable to break the shackles which kept them in their own half.
A great run by Watson to the visitors’ line on the half-hour should have produced a try but at a ruck on the line Scarborough knocked on and the chance was gone. The half ended with both fly-halves being sin-binned for a bit of hand-bagging and the resulting penalty to touch concluded a productive 40 minutes or the home side.
The second half started with Scarborough running hard at a retreating York defence and when an illegal tackle by fullback Alex Nixon on Ratcliffe felled the big wing man, Rob James slotted the resulting penalty for 11-3 and Nixon departed to join Dawes in the sin-bin in the 41st minute.
With two players in the bin York struggled to stay in the game and penalties in the 45th (deliberate knock on) and 55th minutes (feeding at the scrum) saw James complete his hat-trick and stretch the lead to 17-3. Surprisingly with the three miscreants released from their incarceration the game become somewhat scrappy in the final quarter with the Minster Men looking to run everything, not always to great effect and Scarborough pressuring the ball carrier and hitting the rucks.
Visiting fly-half Dawes had been putting in some massive line kicks all afternoon but when a misdirected effort was fielded by James in his own half and returned with interest up the left flank, the Scarborough fullback took advantage of hesitance in the visiting defence to snaffle his own kick and drive over for a thrilling try in the 79th minute. Harrison was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt.
In the 6th minute of injury time the visitors were hammering on the home line for a consolation try when the ball was moved wide right for winger Billy Cakaunitabua to release Dawes who scored in the corner. It was however, all too late and Scarborough celebrated a well deserved win at the final whistle.
This Scarborough side was almost unrecognizable from the one beaten last week: there was an urgency from one to fifteen and some good tackling and organization saw the midfield a more durable unit.
Man of the match Craig Farrell look like the experienced hard-tackling centre he is and Tom Harrison produced the sort of performance we know would come.
Around him Paul White had another good game and the back three of James, Ratcliffe and Harry Sleep were solid in defence and enterprising in attack.
Up front the tight five settled to their task with Wayne Adams dominating the lineout.
The back row with No 8 Phil Watson in great form played their full part in a convincing team performance.