Scarborough 3 Pontefract 14
Following two outstanding performances against top opposition on the road, this game was the poorest display from a Scarborough side at least since moving to Silver Royd.
The club’s boast of having strength in depth was cruelly exposed as a myth; as with four of last week’s semi-final line-up missing through injury, they were exposed by a limited but committed Pontefract who fully deserved their win.
Scarborough made a slow start to the game following last week’s fireworks at Selby and Pontefract turned the screw through their lively forwards for whom No8 Matt Williams was outstanding.
Scrum-half Matthew Hargreaves sniped around the fringes and with little back-row protection the Scarborough half-backs just couldn’t get their line going. When they did manage to move the ball their handling was so poor that any possession was short lived.
It was therefore no surprise when the West Yorkshiremen took the lead 11 minutes into the game.
Scarborough were penalised for collapsing a driving maul and fly-half Glen Boyd found touch in the home 22 with his kick. A well executed catch and drive saw Williams driven over wide on the left. Full-back Andy Deans added the extras with the difficult conversion for a 7-0 Pontefract lead.
With sleet turning to snow and the wind in their faces it appeared that Pontefract would struggle; but with their ponderous back-row struggling and half-backs Zybnek Schutz and Phil Stewart having a sluggish afternoon, Scarborough just couldn’t get their hands on the ball and never really threatened. T
he line-outs were almost a zero possession zone with Ponte winning the majority of Scarborough’s throw-ins.
Full-back Tom Harrison did reduce the arrears with a long distance penalty in the 16th minute but surprisingly after two battling performances on the road, skipper Phil Watson’s men failed to respond and were out-fought by a determined and aggressive Pontefract side.
The conditions continued to worsen and heavy snow fell for most of the second quarter which made it very difficult for both sides; however the visitors always looked the likelier side to score next but Scarborough held out to go to the break only four points adrift at 7-3.
Scarborough made a lively start to the second half and drove into the Pontefract half but it was typical of the afternoon’s proceedings that when awarded a penalty in the visitors half, Tom Harrison failed to find touch with his kick and possession was turned over.
And the Silver-Royd side’s tale of woe continued when they won a defensive scrum in their own 22 in the 50th minute only for Ponte to wrestle back possession and drive flanker Chris Maksymczuk over for their second try. Deans converted for a 14-3 lead.
Scarborough had 30 minutes to get back into the game but it was pretty much more of what had gone before in that half hour.
With Craig Farrell sidelined by injury, inspiration and control had gone AWOL and the home effort remained disjointed and lacking in direction.
The Seasiders laid siege to the Pontefract line under the posts for fully five minutes midway through the half, but a more cohesive visiting eight with Williams calling the shots were more than a match for a home pack suffering a bad case of white-line fever.
Pontefract played out the remainder of the game without further threat and thoroughly deserved what was only their third win on the road this season.
The conditions in the first half of the game were difficult but they were a trial for both sides. Scarborough failed to turn up though and turned in an error-strewn performance awash with poor passing, handling and ball retention.
They appeared to be suffering from a massive hangover from the previous week’s game but it was their lack of spirit that disappointed the Silver Royd faithful.
Pick of the backs were Harry Domett and debutant Joe Marshall who had little to do but acquitted himself well particularly in defence; while Matthew Else and perhaps Phil Watson took what little plaudits were on offer up front.