Defence is the key to Scarborough RUFC’s away success

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Leading try-scorer Tom Ratcliffe increased his tally to 20 touchdowns with a try mid-way through the second half at Huddersfield but it was their heroic defensive efforts that clinched the points for a hard working Scarborough side.

Having lost flanker Luke Raines and winger Corey Dennis to injuries sustained in training, Scarborough, who started with Chris Purdy in the back row and Craig Fairburn on the wing, dominated the early exchanges.

The Seasiders looked to have scored in the third minute when No8 Matthew Else was driven over for what appeared to be the opening try of the match.

However, referee Mike Ramsden decided that Else had been held up and disallowed the big farmer’s effort.

The visitors did edge ahead two minutes later when fly-half Tom Harrison slotted a sweetly-struck penalty for 3-0.

Huddersfield struggled to get out of their own half and conceded a number of penalties in the opening quarter as the visitors turned the screw.

Harrison pulled a penalty shot wide in the 12th minute but made no mistake with the resulting kick when the home No8 and skipper Mark Whitehead was sin-binned for some ‘argy-bargy’ off the ball in the 20th minute.

Leading 6-0 Scarborough continued to dominate the set pieces with Watson and Ingham producing torque in the engine room and Messrs Fish, Williams and Lowde piling on the pressure in the front row.

However, the home forwards got their driving game going and at one stage a superb rolling maul took them almost to the Scarborough line, however a great defensive effort saw Lowde and his colleagues turn the ball over and clear their lines.

Else was sin-binned in the 40th minute and in his absence the Huddersfield forwards drove to the line in the seventh minute of injury-time, sucked in the Scarborough defence and released prop Steve Dyke to barge over in the corner for a well-worked try.

Fly-half John Smith converted from the touchline to nudge his side 7-6 ahead at the break.

Huddersfield stretched their lead four minutes into the second half when inside centre Alex Shaw broke the defensive line, brushed aside a couple of defenders and scored between the uprights. Smith added the extras for 14-7.

Well and truly in the driving seat, Huddersfield looked to capitalise and wrap the game up by laying siege to the Scarborough line.

The siege was broken when a superb break by Ratcliffe took the visitors up-field only for the big centre’s final pass to go astray.

However, Nick Ingham’s men started to exert pressure themselves which resulted in penalties for Harrison in the 53rd and 59th minutes to close the gap to a couple of points at 14-12.

With their tails up, Scarborough snatched the lead in the 63rd minute with a surging break from halfway by centre Craig Farrell took him deep into home territory where, using wingman Graeme Jeffrey as a foil, he released Ratcliffe to power over. Harrison failed to convert.

A skilful and determined home side trailing by only three points took the game to a Scarborough side with Jaxon Tite on for Purdy and Chris Mabbott on for Farrell.

Obstinate defence by all fifteen players thwarted Huddersfield at every turn with a try saving tackle by Jeffery and a series of big hits coming from Mabbott.

With time running out the stocky substitute centre stopped home scrum-half Simon Wilson in his tracks when he ran a perfectly kickable penalty from in front of the posts.

Right at the death a Scarborough breakout saw Rob James tackled short of the line at which point Mr Ramsden called an end to proceedings.

Although it was a very close game, Scarborough thoroughly deserved their win bouncing back from conceding tries either side of the break when they were down to 14 men.

Great work by the forwards with Phil Watson to the fore was the powerhouse that drove the side with some good go-forward ball.

The side’s defensive effort at the death showed their collective spirit which bodes well for some tough games ahead.

Experienced referee Mike Ramsden had a good game showing common sense and was consistent in his interpretation of the laws.