Scarborough bounced back from recent disappointments to run in four tries and earn a bonus point from an emphatic 35-5 Y orkshire One victory over visitors Pontefract at Silver Royd.
Kicking off, the Seasiders attacked down their left flank and from a ruck a couple of metres in from the touchline fly-half Phil Stewart moved the ball infield through hands and Graeme Jeffrey slickly released his fellow centre Tom Ratcliffe who left the visitors’ wide defence for dead, galloping over and touching down between the uprights. He added the extras with less than two minutes on the clock for 7-0.
Playing the dynamic rugby that characterised their earlier performances this season skipper Phil Watson’s men were aggressive in defence and quick to the break down.
Under pressure, the visitors started to concede penalties and having shaved the upright with a penalty in the ninth minute, Ratcliffe got it exactly right at his next attempt a minute later when they were penalised for handling on the ground and he stroked over his kick from 27 metres for a 10-0 lead.
Playing a very limited forwards game the visitors’ pedestrian back line never looked dangerous with ball in hand and for a time both sets of forwards cancelled each other out; however the home eight began to make their presence felt with hooker Luke Raines, prop Nino Cutino, flanker Ben Wilson and debutant Sinako Dunywa at No8 making an impression on the west Yorkshiremen.
However, when Scarborough infringed on half way, fly-half Jamie Benn’s kick took Pontefract to within five metres of the home line. A series of drives tested the home defence which held firm for fully five minutes before an attacking scrum saw No8 Derek Eves drive for the line only to be held up; lock Matt Williams secured the ball and drove over in the 23rd minute. Benn pushed his conversion attempt wide but the deficit had been cut to five points.
A poor kick from the re-start which failed to travel ten metres saw the visitors temporarily regain the initiative but when fullback Tom Harrison kicked a penalty into the corner when the west Yorkshiremen infringed in their own half, the ball was moved infield from the resulting lineout and Scarborough’s forwards turned the screw on the visitors’ line before Cutino drove over from a ruck on the half hour. Ratcliffe converted for a 17-5 lead.
Coach Lowde’s charges continued to apply the pressure with their ‘in your face’ close quarter work and when Pontefract centre Chris Sant threw a loose pass in mid-field, ‘poacher’ Ratcliffe, king of the interception try, gratefully plucked it from the air and galloped over half the length of the field to dive in between the uprights in the 35th minute. He converted his own effort to see his side to a 24-5 half-time lead.
The second half got off to a good start for Scarborough, Ratcliffe kicking a penalty in the 43rd minute when Pontefract were penalised for offside.
However, leading 27-5 the third quarter was a bit of a yawn with Scarborough appearing to go off the boil and the sum of the visitors’ ideas was to kick for the corner and look for a catch and drive; however they never secured enough possession from a Scarborough side which had them sewn up in the middle. Ratcliffe nudged his side 30-5 ahead with a penalty in the 56th minute when the visitors handled at a ruck.
Scarborough got their second wind in the fourth quarter and breaks from the admirable Corey Dennis and Matty Young on the wings and Jeffrey in the centre could have produced more.
An elusive run by Dunywa down the left touchline from halfway took them almost to the line but scrambling defence saved the day for the visitors.
There then followed a series of fracas caused by some high tackling from a frustrated Pontefract side; however when a high tackle from a visiting player brought down a Scarborough man and halted an attack, referee Andy Hodgson dismissed Scarborough’s Ian Williams for retaliation in the 74th minute.
Nevertheless the game ended on a high for Scarborough when a break down their left flank started by Dunywa and moved through four pairs of hands saw Ratcliffe surge over to complete his hat-trick of tries and earn his side a bonus point. He brought his personal points tally for the afternoon to 30 with the conversion for a deserved 35-5 win.
Coach Jason Lowde will be relieved to see his charges triumph and make it a five-pointer scoring four tries. They looked like winners from the first minute playing a brand of rugby which prevented the visitors, who were already pretty limited in their ambitions, ever getting into the game.
The forwards performed well in the tight and loose with Cutino, Raines and newcomer Sinako Dunywa taking the plaudits. Behind them the backs very much played their part with Corey Dennis, Phil Stewart and centres Ratcliffe and Jeffrey pick of the bunch.
Next week will present a different challenge as they travel to newly-promoted Wath who narrowly defeated leaders Huddersfield YMCA 13-12.