Battling Scarborough beaten by league leaders Phoenix

Scarborough on the back foot during their 10-8 defeat at Yorkshire One leaders Doncaster Pheonix. Picture: Andy Standing
Scarborough on the back foot during their 10-8 defeat at Yorkshire One leaders Doncaster Pheonix. Picture: Andy Standing

After last week’s comprehensive 55-0 win against Consett in the National Cup, Scarborough went into their game against Yorkshire One leaders Doncaster Phoenix full of confidence.

Lee Douglas was forced to make a number of changes with Nick Ingham suspended, Corey Dennis nursing a hamstring injury and last week’s man of the match, Hayden Oglvie unavailable.

The seasiders were further rocked by the late withdrawal of in-form winger Harry Domett through illness, Joe Lenton taking the flying Kiwi’s place on the wing.

Playing with a stiff breeze at their backs it was the visitors who took the early initiative turning the ball over and the resulting driving maul was held up in goal. From the resulting five-metre scrum the Scarborough pack forced two quick penalties, but at the third attempt it was the visitors who were penalised allowing Phoenix to clear their lines.

However the kick failed to reach touch, allowing Scarborough to counter quickly through Tom Chadwick and Tom Harrison, and it was the latter who gave the visitors the lead on seven minutes after Doncaster were penalised at the breakdown.

This sparked the leaders into action and only some valiant defending and a timely knock-on kept them in front.

Their respite was short-lived as Phoenix made huge ground from a catch and drive before Planchant peeled away to score under the posts, Andy Kettle secured the extras with a simple conversion.

Looking to capitalise on their advantage, the hosts were straight on the attack again but they were struggling in the set scrum and a further infringement allowed Harrison to make a huge clearance.

Worse was to follow from the hosts, a further knock-on close to their own line gave the Scarborough scrum the chance of a push over try, but the Phoenix scrum buckled resulting in a yellow card.

Scarborough elected a further scrum, which had the same result and the hosts were reduced to 13 men.

The away side pressed home their numerical advantage as Graeme Jeffery won the chase to the ball after a deft Tom Ratcliffe kick through and touched down.

Tom Harrison missed the difficult conversion, but Scarborough led 8-7.

From the kick-off Ratcliffe broke through the Phoenix line before feeding Harrison, who galloped home into the corner only to see his effort harshly ruled out for a forward pass.

With a two-man disadvantage Phoenix showed why they are top of the league, killing the game and in doing so running the clock down and they were rewarded when Scarborough infringed and Kettle restored their lead with a penalty.

Back to full strength it was Phoenix who ended the half on top with only a last ditch tackle from man of the match Eamon Chapman stopping the hosts from extending their lead.

With Phoenix leading 10-8 at the break and with the wind on their backs for the second half it looked like a difficult 40 minutes were in store for the visitors and that turned out to be the case as they struggled to get out of their own half.

When the Scarborough scrum were penalised, Kettle had the chance to extend the lead but his long range effort dropped short and wide of the posts.

Phoenix continued to press and dominated possession, though they rarely looked like they were going to add to their score. On the rare occasions the visitors had possession, too many handling errors were giving the ball straight back. Kettle missed a further penalty and the chance to seal victory for the hosts from what looked to be a simple kick.

Scarborough rallied late in the game with a spell of attacking possession but never threatened the Phoenix line and the league leaders closed the game out to secure a 10-8 win.

It was a gutsy and battling performance by Scarborough, who have run the unbeaten league leaders close on both games this season.

Scarborough dominated in the set scrum but struggled all afternoon in containing the Doncaster rolling maul.

Doncaster deserved their win and showed why they are unbeaten and top of the league, while not playing flamboyant, expansive rugby they are a well-organised team who know how to grind out results.