Ratcliffe hat-trick stuns the Hawks

Tom Ratcliffe powers forward for the Pirates
Tom Ratcliffe powers forward for the Pirates

A Tom Ratcliffe hat-trick shone as the difference between two highly competitive sides in this feisty top of the table clash in Yorkshire Group 4 which finished with Scarborough Pirates edging out Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks 32-20.

The Pirates came back from this early upset and settled to produce some good passing rugby, instrumented by playmaker Craig Farrell.

A flowing move saw Farrell burst the line and gain 30 metres with Oliver Battye in support. A quick exchange put Tom Jenkinson clear, but referee Andy Howe adjudged that Jenkinson failed to ground the ball correctly and ruled out the try.

Spurred on by the chance, the Pirates continued to pin the Hawks in their own half, with reward coming on 19 minutes as Ratcliffe jinked in under the posts, converting the goal to draw level.

Spirits high the home side continued to play the ball quickly, catching the visitors flat footed.

The ball moved quickly to the right on 28 minutes and centre Jack Johnson darted through a gap to race away. Full back Harry Sleep backed up and a popped pass from Johnson was taken well by Sleep. With his space narrowing toward the touchline, he found winger Craig Marsden sprinting in pursuit on the inside, Marsden raced away to touchdown under the sticks. Ratcliffe added the two to edge ahead 12-6.

Sheffield came back with some determined play, forcing Jack Hakings to kick long on the fifth to ease the pressure. A high tackle on the chase resulted in an unsavoury incident with a player from each side red carded. Referee How called in the captains and asked for calm in this highly charged encounter.

Still under pressure the crafty Ratcliffe intelligently intercepted a wide ball and raced away. Marsden again caught up with his pace, to collect the pass and touchdown. Referee Howe ruled out the try pulling play back to the 20-metre line as he had seen a Sheffield player held back in his pursuit of Marsden.

With half-time beckoning, Ratcliffe again picked up a loose pass and sped away. This time he ran 80 metres to add his second of the day plus the goal to edge into an 18-6 half-time lead. As the interval approached the game flared up for a second time, with Howe dismissing another player from each side as he blew for the interval.

The travelling Hawks came out fighting for the second period and pulled back into the match immediately. A reverse pass put in Allen on the right, but the goal attempt was missed allowing a slender advantage to the Pirates, with the visitors needing two scores to draw level at 18-10.

Adam Lee at hooker began to boss play for the home team and his quick play of the ball set up debutant Shane Young to power through. Reggie Stirk backed up well, who fed Sleep, but the full back was halted just short of the line. As the quarter hour approached Lee and Ratcliffe combined to put Farrell away centre field. Farrell cleverly side stepped to touchdown under the posts to continue his week on week scoring feat. Ratcliffe kicked the goal and extend the lead to 24=10

Sheffield dug deep, not going to accept defeat. Burns chased around the back of his team mates to become an overlap on 73 minutes racing clear up the left wing to pull back 4 points with Gray adding the goal. Still needing two scores to get back into the game, the visitors threw everything at the home side. Resilient in the tackle, every player worked hard to keep out the Hawks. Ali Sutton and Martin Robinson ran the ball out strongly gaining good metres, to ease the pressure. As the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes the crafty Ratcliffe again picked the pockets of the Hawks to intercept a loose pass charging 30 metres to score his third of the day

The Sheffield lads were not to lie down, with four minutes left, Allen again raced clear to pull the scores back to 28-20, but that elusive 2 points was a big gap. The smallest of advantage proved to be critical in the game that had been nail biting for the 150 spectators watching. As the crowd started to check the watches a final burst from Ratcliffe up the right saw him find Johnson, who took the tackle of centre and winger off-loading to Marsden who dived full length into the corner for his second of the day and to secure a 32-20 victory for the jubilant Pirates!