Not for the first time this season Scarborough struggled to get out of the blocks from the start playing away from home and ended up losing out 30-15 in their Yorkshire One game at Heath.
The visitors conceded three tries in a nightmare of a first half and although they improved immensely after the break, they were always playing catch-up against a well-organised Heath side who were full value for their victory.
Playing up the Heath slope, Scarborough started sluggishly and were penalised for offside, falling 3-0 behind to a penalty from Heath fullback Charlie Lomas in the first minute of the game. The visitors’ efforts at the breakdown in the early exchanges were a pale shadow of their dynamic early-season form in this area and they conceded several turnovers. Scarborough No8 Phil Austen then left the field with a leg injury apparently sustained in the warm-up, to be replaced by Charlie Hoggard.
Heath looked the sharper of the sides particularly in midfield where young fly-half Ezra Hinchliffe and centres Dave Montgomery and Giles Hetherington were a real handful for a Scarborough side which looked flimsy in the centre.
And when the first try of game came it was through the middle; Hinchliffe took a blatant forward pass missed by referee Mr Woodcock who was out of position, released Montgomery who brushed aside some ineffectual Scarborough tackle attempts to score in the 16th minute. Lomas added the extras for 10-0.
Centre Tom Ratcliffe reduced the arrears in the 20th minute with a penalty but the home side quickly wrestled back the initiative two minutes later when No8 Ian Downsborough picked up from the base of a scrum and released flanker Danny Ramsden with another blatantly forward pass missed once more by the Northampton-based whistler and waltzed past a pedestrian visiting defence to score. Lomas added a long-distance penalty to stretch the lead to 18-3 on the half-hour.
Scarborough lost the services of prop Nino Cutino when he was sin-binned in the 36th minute for coming in from the side at a maul; the yellow card was for persistent infringement. The most controversial moment of the first half came in the fifth minute of injury time when Heath second row Jamie Richardson won the ball at an attacking line-out; it went out to Montgomery who was held up over the line but the referee awarded a penalty try with Scarborough adjudged offside when the entire team were on or behind the try line? Lomas converted for a 25-3 half-time lead.
I don’t know what Coach Jason Lowde said at half-time but the Seasiders came out with all guns blazing. Graeme Jeffrey moved into the centre to bolster the defence and with Corey Dennis taking his place on the wing, the side had a more balanced look. And the return of Cutino to the action in the 46th minute coincided with Scarborough’s first try of the game; winning the ball between the 10 and 22 metre lines in the Heath half, leading try scorer Tom Ratcliffe was released. The big centre dipped his shoulder and wriggled through some desperate tackle attempts to power over then converted to reduce the arrears to 15 points at 25-10.
The visitors then had their best period of the game with back-rowers Chris Purdy and Sam Warren driving forward supported by some powerful running by front row colleagues Nino Cutino and Luke Raines. Behind them Jeffrey and Dennis looked dangerous in possession. And when their reward came it was in the form of a superbly executed try on the hour; good work by the forwards released Warren who powered down the outside-centre channel before despatching an inch-perfect pass to winger Matty Young who powered over wide on the left despite the attentions of Heath’s Ezra Hinchliffe. Ratcliffe was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt but Scarborough were within a couple of scores at 25-15.
Scarborough kept up their onslaught but great work by Heath No8 Ian Downsborough in defence steadied the ship and kept his line intact. Ramsden almost got a second try in injury-time when he powered up the Heath left flank but was bundled into touch at the expense of a broken corner flag by Dennis, Cutino and scrum-half Zybnek Schutz. However from a catch-and-drive a minute later prop Charlie Moore was driven over for an unconverted try which clinched the game at 30-15.
A well-organised, slick-handling Heath side for whom the spine of Lomas at fullback, Hinchliffe at flyhalf and No8 Downsborough ran the show, fully deserved their win and revenge for a 79-10 thrashing at Silver Royd earlier in the season.
Scarborough never recovered from a poor opening 40 minutes but impressed with their fight in the second half. The lineout, apart from Chris Purdy, was an unproductive source of possession and I’m sure Mr Lowde and the players will be working on that on the training paddock ahead of the visit of Bridlington to Silver Royd on Saturday.