James drives hosts to win

Scarborough RUFC v Knottingley, at Silveroyd. Rob James breaks away to score Scarborough's first try.'Picture by Andrew Higgins 121088a 10/03/12
Scarborough RUFC v Knottingley, at Silveroyd. Rob James breaks away to score Scarborough's first try.'Picture by Andrew Higgins 121088a 10/03/12
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BOTH sides drifted in and out of an exciting but error strewn game played in almost perfect conditions on an immaculate Silver Royd surface.

Scarborough got off to the worse possible start but bounced back to run in five tries for another bonus five pointer and move up to sixth in Yorkshire One.

The Seasiders set off at a cracking pace with centre Craig Farrell and prop Nino Cutino making power breaks into Knottingley territory but on both occasions possession was lost and the visitors counter-attacked.

And when Scarborough infringed, Knottingley took a quick tap penalty and centre James Liversidge sent No8 Craig Field in at the corner.

Fly-half Steve Rocket missed the conversion. Scarborough replied in quick time when the ball was moved through hands and fly-half Rob James cut through the visiting defence to score between the uprights in the seventh minute.

Centre Tom Ratcliffe added the extras for a 7-5 lead. And Scarborough should have stretched their lead three minutes later when a powerful Farrell break resulted in a kick and chase with wing Paul White just failing to secure an awkward bouncing ball with the line at his mercy.

The visitors then lost the services of loose head prop Perry Morrison with a suspected fractured elbow.

End-to-end stuff ensued with Scarborough’s ball retention letting them down and the resulting turnovers allowing the visitors to press.

A good drive down their left flank by the west Yorkshiremen almost took them over; however from the resultant scrum, scrum-half Steven Seed whipped out a long pass to winger James Mattin who galloped over for 12-7 in the 18th minute. Rocket hit the upright with his conversion attempt.

Early in the second quarter breaks by Farrell and James left prop Tom Fish and No8 Matthew Else respectively with the line at their mercy but on both occasions the big men knocked on.

However following an attacking lineout on the visitor’s five meter line the ebullient Cutino cut a swathe through a posse of defenders to power over in the 25th minute to level the scores at 12-12. Ratcliffe missed the conversion.

James and scrum-half Jake Rollinson were in great form and they had to be on an afternoon when the Scarborough lineout creaked; however the forwards scrummaged well and the Seasiders halfbacks made the most of their possession.

Scarborough continued to press and although they made a hash of an attacking lineout in the visitor’s 22, James secured possession and wriggled through the narrowest of gaps to cross in the 33rd minute. Ratcliffe converted for a 19-12 lead. The seven point cushion was only temporary and a Rockett penalty in the 36th minute saw Scarborough’s lead reduced to four points at the break.

Although a superb break by Scarborough fullback Graeme Jeffrey in the opening minute of the half took his side deep into Knottingley territory, the visitors bossed the third quarter of the game as the Seasiders went off the boil.

Coach Dave Beck’s charges found it very difficult to get their hands on the ball as the west Yorkshiremen’s superior ball retention during this period afforded them a glut of possession.

However for all their possession they just couldn’t break the Scarborough defensive line and the pendulum swung the other way as the home side came back with renewed vigour.

A searing break from defence by Jeffrey deep into Knottingley’s 22 was illegally halted and Ratcliffe kicked the resulting penalty to nudge his side further ahead 22-18 on the hour.

The Seasiders’ stepped on the gas and with James and Farrell running the show piled on the pressure; following a great run by flanker Chris Purdy a deliberate knock on four meters from the line prevented a try being scored and referee Mr Mulligan awarded a penalty try.

Ratcliffe kicked the conversion for 29-18 in the 65th minute. A third penalty for Rocket reduced the arrears to 29-21 a couple of minutes later but Scarborough continued to turn the screw.

Sustained pressure deep inside the visitors 22 was repulsed on several occasions by good defensive work before Farrell powered over in the 75th minute. Ratcliffe added the touchline conversion for a 36-21 lead.

If that was not enough the try scoring was not yet over and following relentless pressure on the Scarborough line Knottingley’s star man Craig Field crashed over in the sixth minute of injury-time for a consolation try. Rocket then converted.

In a game where at times their ball retention let them down skipper Nick Ingham’s men still scored five tries and for the 17th time this season earned a bonus point.

The highest total bonus points in the Yorkshire Leagues; no one can argue with that.

Into the bargain both sides produced an exciting (although flawed) afternoon’s rugby.

For the second week in a row young Aussie utility back James turned in a man-of-the-match performance with his control and balance and a couple of thrilling tries.

His halfback partner Jake Rollinson is on a steep learning curve at this level and is rapidly becoming a Silver Royd favourite showing stacks of guts and no little skill.

Behind them the threequarters worked well with Jeffrey and Farrell taking the eye.

Try-magnet Ratcliffe, now known as goal-magnet, has been a revelation with his goal kicking.

Up front the lineout creaked but the set scrum worked well; pick of the bunch was South African Cutino who really has had the bit between his teeth since his recovery from injury.