Following last week’s hugely entertaining cracker with Doncaster, this Yorkshire Challenge Shield second round tie with Bridlington was a real damp squib.
Scarborough should have been 30 points clear at halftime but failed to turn their overwhelming dominance into points whilst Bridlington whose second half performance merited a win, ended up losing the game by the narrowest of margins.
Scarborough swarmed all over the visitors in the opening exchanges with centre Benji Cottle almost performing a repeat of his score last week; however he lost the chase for a lovely chip through in the second minute.
The young Kiwi centre was really buzzing and only some committed tackling by the Bridlington defence kept their line intact.
However when the men from Dukes Park infringed just inside their own 10 metre line wingman Tom Ratcliffe hoofed over the long distance penalty for a 3-0 lead in the fourth minute.
Not for the first time this season a bit of composure in attack would have served Scarborough well as they pinned the visitors in their own 22 and with cooler heads they could have been out of sight by half-time.
Bridlington had very little possession during the first quarter but just couldn’t get out of their own half. And when danger man Ziswi Zondo was released he found the attentions of Scarborough winger Matty Young suffocating.
Skipper Tom Harrison’s men continued to press but their only reward came in the form of a penalty in the 14th minute when Brid were caught offside and Ratcliffe chipped over the penalty for 6-0. And ironically the visitors scored on their first incursion into Scarborough territory.
A Brid kick into the home 22 was fielded and marked by Harrison who took the kick quickly but failed to find touch; from the ensuing play Scarborough were penalized for not rolling away from a tackle and Brid scrum-half Stevie Mellonby reduced the arrears to three points with his 35 metre kick in the 17th minute.
Scarborough had a myriad of chances in the second quarter stemming from dominance in the set scrum, long touch kicking from Harrison and incisive running from Cottle. A driving maul wide on Scarborough’s right in the Bridlington 22 provided ball for Harrison to launch a huge cross field kick to Ratcliffe on the left touchline.
He fielded it cleanly but lost his balance in the tackle on the line and the chance had gone. However they nudged 9-3 ahead in the 38th minute when in a blatant professional foul, a Bridlington player just walked offside at a maul in front of his own posts. Ratcliffe took the three points for a 9-3 lead.
I don’t know what was in their half-time drink but Bridlington came out all guns firing in the second half particularly fullback Zondo whose electric injections of speed were proving incisive. Like Scarborough in the first half the visitors had great purpose but little composure.
They did began to dominate the scrum with props Adam Dixon and Ezra Luxton in good form, however, too often the visiting eight were allowed to illegally wheel the scrums with impunity.
During this period Scarborough’s defence was, as usual, determined and unflinching deploying all hands to the pump. Hooker Mark Hopper, Matty Oxtoby, flanker Blake Nightingale and No8 Matthew Else were the pick of the forwards.
Behind them, fullback Graeme Jeffrey whose great cover tackle prevented a certain try in the 55th minute, Harrison, Billy Parker and particularly Matty Young earned the plaudits in the backs.
However they completely lost their shape as an attacking force and struggled mightily to get out of their own half without success.
Something had to give and when Mellonby kicked a penalty into the corner five metres from the home line, a catch-and drive saw prop Luxton drive over on the narrow side to score in the 61st minute. Mellonby missed the difficult touchline conversion.
It was the visitors turn to swarm all over Scarborough and great runs by Zondo, centres Ryan Girking and Martin Robinson were augmented by powerful charges from Luxton and Dixon whilst big Callum Cappleman in the second row made his presence felt.
As it was, a great defensive scrum in front of their own posts saw Scarborough clear their lines and get into the Brid half.
At a subsequent scrum on their own line deep into injury time, the visitors’ infringed and Harrison kicked the ball dead to end the game.