Second half capitulation costs Scarborough at York

Scarborough in action at York. Picture: Dave Campbell.
Scarborough in action at York. Picture: Dave Campbell.
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For the fourth time in twelve games Scarborough turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance, morphing from a slick confident first half team with a good half-time lead into a shapeless, jittery, losing outfit in the second forty minutes

The Seasiders led 17-5 at halftime following a dynamic performance in which they scored a couple of tries and with a bit of composure could have had at least another two.

However having had talismanic centre Benji Cottle sin-binned in the opening minutes of the second half, they conceded three tries and sunk without trace.

Scarborough were disrupted before the start when influential loose forwards Matty Else and Blake Nightingale failed fitness tests and Rob Sutton and Nino Cutino deputized. Tommy Goodman, Ian Williams and Ryan Pickering started in the front row.

And it took the re-shuffled visiting outfit only three minutes to get on the scoresheet; good work in midfield by Cutino and centres Benji Cottle and Jan Teiber released Tom Ratcliffe.

The big winger feigned to step inside before gliding past his opposite wing Harry Dikson on the outside and cut in to score. Fly-half Tom Harrison added the extras for 7-0.

The men from Silver Royd continued to press and a break from the York 10 metre line saw Cottle almost make it to the line but a scrambling defence nailed the young New Zealander and the chance had gone.

However in their next incursion into the home 22, York flanker Sam Thorpe went off his feet at a ruck and Harrison’s penalty stretched the visitors lead to 10-0 in the 8th minute

Scarborough’s dynamism and slick hands was a constant threat and a move instigated by scrum-half Zybnek Schutz in the 11th minute released Cottle but he had no runners and ran out of support.

The Kiwi centre was really buzzing and when he released wing Matty Young a try looked on; however the youngster’s lack of pace on this occasion saw him caught in two minds by an alert home defence and the chance had gone.

York took advantage of the let-off and attacked down their left flank; an attacking lineout in the visitors 22 saw a well executed catch-and-drive and Thorpe went over wide left in the 14th minute.

Centre Rich Downey missed the conversion and had the same result with a penalty shot five minutes later when Scarborough infringed.

The second quarter saw the visitors turn the screw and their lineout continued the improvement shown in last week’s Wath game. A solid scrum also contributed to a good supply of ball for the backs.

And going into the latter stages of the half they camped in the York 22. Following a series of rucks on the line, lock Mikey Readman burrowed over to stretch the Scarborough lead.

Harrison added the touchline conversion for 17-5 in the 35th minute.

The Seasiders piled on the pressure and as half-time approached a try seemed to be on when a pass was whipped across the home 22 and taken at pace by Graeme Jeffrey; however a great defensive effort managed to down the big fullback and York held out to trail 5-17 at the break.

Having seen so many second half collapses, the visiting Scarborough faithful viewed the second 40 minutes with trepidation, and their fears were confirmed when star-man Cottle was sin-binned by referee Mr Laycock for a trip on a York player with only minutes of the second half played.

Scarborough’s 14 men reacted badly to the temporary dismissal and completely lost their shape in a shambolic ten minutes.

Playing down a bit of a slope with a functioning lineout they surely should have pushed the home side deep into their own half.

Instead they looked to run out of defence and failed to retain possession at the breakdown or failed to make touch when they did kick, finding the York back three and putting themselves back under pressure.

And the tries came for the home side; in the 47th minute Scarborough won a defensive five metre lineout but tapped back and fly-half Ben Johson nipped in to get the touch.

That went unconverted, but when scrum-half Toby Atkin went on a jinking run through the visiting defence in the 55th minute to touchdown, Downey made no mistake converting to level the scores at 17-17.

The ship was steadied somewhat when Cottle re-joined the action but when Young tried to run out of defence and was penalised for not releasing in the tackle on the hour, his misdemeanour was compounded when he gave Mr Laycock some lip.

This moved the penalty into striking range for Johnson who obliged with the kick to give his side the lead at 20-17 for the first time in the game.

The Seasiders lost the services of the gutsy Schutz injured in the 62nd minute to be replaced by Jake Rollinson but the fresh legs never led to a refreshed performance with the lack of ball retention and inaccurate line kicking continuing.

As the game went into its last ten minutes and following a period of sustained pressure on the Scarborough line, fly-half Johnson went over for his second try of the game to snatch a bonus point in the 75th minute.

Downey added the conversion for 27-17.

Scarborough did grab a losing bonus point at the death when they struck against the head at a scrum in front of the York posts in the 79th minute and the ball was moved wide right for Cottle to power over for his eleventh try of the season. Harrison missed the touchline conversion.