Scarborough RUFC coach Jason Lowde must be tearing his hair out following an eighth defeat on the road in which the much re-shuffled visitors outscored Yorkshire One strugglers Knottingley by four tries to one but were undone by their own indiscipline.
The visitors conceded a rash of penalties, six of which were kicked by scrum-half Mick Piper to record the West Yorkshire club’s third win of the season.
The Seasiders made the best possible start with an early try; great driving work by the forwards deep in the home half saw the ball recycled left through the backs and winger Zbynec Schutz popped up to score in the corner in the 5th minute. Centre Tom Ratcliffe was unsuccessful with his touchline conversion attempt.
An error-strewn game from both sides saw the visitors take one against the head at a Knottingley scrum but they went off their feet at the next ruck and Piper made no mistake with the penalty 30 metres out to reduce the arrears to 5-3 in the 13th minute. The fun and games continued four minutes later when the Seasiders lost the ball at an attacking line-out 10 metres out but hesitancy in the home ranks saw No8 Phil Austin effect a turnover and stride over unopposed. Ratcliffe was once more unsuccessful with his conversion attempt but Scarborough led 10-3.
The seesaw nature of the game continued when Scarborough drifted offside in the 20th minute and Piper made no mistake with his second penalty goal of the game to reduce the arrears to four points at 10-6. And Knottingley went ahead for the first time in the game when Scarborough lost a scrum against the head and the ball was moved from the base through scrum-half Steve Rocket and Piper for left wing David Mattin to touchdown. Piper added the extras for a 13-10 lead in the 32nd minute.
Ratcliffe had a chance to level the scores in the 38th minute with a penalty 35metres out on Scarborough’s right but just couldn’t find his kicking form; however the burly centre made amends on the stroke of halftime when the ball was moved right from second phase possession on halfway and the big man broke a tackle, sidestepped and dummied two opponents to waltz over between the uprights for his 14th try of the season. His first successful kick of the afternoon added the extra two and Scarborough led 17-13 at the break.
With three tries under their belts, the Seasiders would have looked to push on from there and complete the job; however they turned in perhaps their poorest third quarter performance of the season, particularly up front where any possession from first phase set-pieces was rare indeed.
At the ruck, Knottingley used their ex-Morley No8 Craig Field to pick up and go from the base using his fellow loose forwards Matt Bradley and Paul Leadbetter to take it on. The visitors defended around the fringes but when they crept offside in front of their own posts Piper reduced the arrears to a single point at 17-16 with the kick.
Knottingley continued to press and when Field made a great break his offload to wing Andrew Lund was deliberately knocked on by a Scarborough player and Piper nudged his side 19-17 ahead with the resulting penalty in the 50th minute. And the visitors’ nightmare third quarter continued on the hour when they were once again penalised for offside; a player give referee Dave Lindsey some lip and the penalty was moved 10 metres forward. Piper duly obliged to stretch the lead to 22-17. And Scarborough’s indiscipline cost them dear five minutes later when some back chat at a scrum saw them concede another penalty and Piper slotted his sixth penalty of the afternoon for 25-17.
A good passage of play with some slick inter-passing between forwards and backs saw skipper Phil Watson drive over wide left to reduce the arrears to three points at 25-22 five minutes from the end. Ratcliffe missed the conversion. Knottingley had a chance to put the issue beyond doubt with three minutes to go when Scarborough were penalized for hands in a ruck. However Piper, who had been in great kicking form all afternoon, fluffed his kick. Scarborough threw everything at the Knottingley line in the closing stages of the game and appeared to have clinched a win when prop Jamie Drayton was driven over in the last play of the game. However the Mr Lindsey adjudged the ball to have been held up and blew his whistle for time to the great relief of the home side.
Scarborough lost the services of Craig Farrell, Corey Dennis who was last week’s man of the match and the experienced Graeme Jeffrey for this game and a late reshuffle did not help; however to come away from home, score four tries for a bonus point and still lose to Yorkshire One’s basement club is a huge disappointment. First phase possession was a lottery and Scarborough struggled at the line-out and set scrum which will be very difficult to fix at this stage of the season. They did come away with two losing bonus points; one for scoring four tries and the other for losing by less than seven points. This was scant consolation but nevertheless welcome and saw them move up the league despite the defeat.
Scarborough News Star man: Craig Field (Knottingley)
Scarborough: Harrison Lucas Ratcliffe Young Shutz Stewart Rollinson Drayton Raines Cutino Readman Watson Purdy Hoggard Austen Substitutes: Goodman Sutton (both used)
Knottingley: Milton Lund Ash Langton Mattin Piper Rocket Berry Bradley Morrison Haigh Chippendale Bradley Leadbetter Field Substitutes: Clark Ackroyd Belcher (all used)
Referee: Mr Dave Lindsey