The Scarborough Pirates travelled away to New Earswick All Blacks looking to start their season with a win but were edged out 10-8.
The Pirates welcomed back a host of old and new faces, Josh McNeill, Ben Owram and coach Keith Paddock making a return to the squad, while Joe Wallace and Jordan Pickard stepped up from last year’s Under-16s and slotted in nicely.
The game started very evenly with both teams going close to scoring on numerous occasions.
The new half-back pairing of McNeill and Chris Keld caused the All Blacks defence all sorts of problems, but the hosts took the lead after 30 minutes scoring to the left of the posts to go into the break 6-0 ahead.
At half-time coach Paddock asked his side to step up the intensity in attack and that is just what the Pirates did.
Harry Sleep spotted a gap and delivered a clean pass for Pickard to ground in the corner despite the attention of three defenders.
The conversion was missed so the Pirates trailed 6-4.
Pirates, lifted by the try, then followed this score with some ferocious defence. Tom Read set the bar high for his teammates to follow with some massive hits forcing mistake after mistake from the All Blacks attackers.
The visitors then took the lead shortly after, good work from forwards Zac Metcalfe, Joe Messruther and Read set up good field position for last year’s top try-scorer Sleep to open his account for the year with a well-taken try in the opposite corner to take the score to 8-6.
The Pirates thought they had extended their lead even further when Sleep and Tom Burton caused havoc down the left, Burton getting to within inches of the line before good cover defence saw him dragged down just short.
New Earswick’s fitness then began to show with Scarborough’s initial contact slacking and the hosts making ground a lot easier.
They then crossed in the corner. It was unconverted but left the score at 10-8.
Scarborough then threw everything they had in hope they’d be able to find the winning, try but this wasn’t to be as the All Blacks defence held firm for the victory.
New captain Alex Paddock said: “I was honoured when I was selected as captain this year, although we didn’t get the result we wanted, we did a lot of things well and there’s still a few bits to work on but overall it was a very good game.
“I was very impressed with the young lads who stepped up, they fitted in very well.
“Zac Metcalfe has come back this season looking a new man, he’s worked very hard in the off season and that showed, his work-rate was outstanding."
Coach Paddock added: “I was happy with the run out. It was what I expected to be fair.
“We played very well for the first quarter and were well structured with fierce defence but fitness became key.
“We dropped a lot of ball in good attacking position and lacked a bit of composure when we got near their line.
“Everyone gave it their all so I can’t ask for anymore.
“There were a lot of good things and a lot to work on, so we hope to put it right this coming weekend against York Lokos.”