Scarborough travelled to North One outfit Driffield for a Christmas friendly fixture and blew away the festive cobwebs with a well-deserved 24-21 victory in a hugely entertaining game at Kelleythorpe.
Both clubs fielded sides with a fair smattering of first team regulars augmented by some promising youngsters and Scarborough made the early running in perfect conditions for rugby. However, having spent the opening five minutes in their own 22, the Woldsmen broke upfield and from a ruck deep in Scarborough territory, flanker Rob Hamilton made a half-break and sent scrum-half Harvey Harding in for the opening score of the game. Fly-half Rob Murray added the extras for 7-0.
The Seasiders struggled in the early set scrums but when Driffield re-shuffled their front row, parity in this area of the game was restored. Driffield looked to have real pace when they broke particularly wing Robin McGill; however Scarborough’s defence was up to the task particularly hard running centres Billy Parker and ex-rugby league star Craig Farrell. Debutant right wing Joe Lenton put in a couple of great tackles in the opening quarter and acquitted himself well. Tom Ratcliffe, playing at fly-half pinned the home side back in their own territory with a fine display of line kicking.
Harding who was yellow carded in the last meeting between the clubs back in April was given another ten minutes to cool his heels in the 18th minute and Scarborough took advantage when Farrell who was on fire, surged through the middle to release Parker who powered over in the 20th minute. Ratcliffe converted to level the scores at 7-7.
The Woldsmen struggled to cope with the ‘punch’ of Farrell and Parker who took play to the home five metre line in the 25th minute. From the attacking scrum the ball was moved right for Ratcliffe to send fullback Graeme Jeffrey, up in support, over for the visitor’s second touch-down. Ratcliffe failed to convert but Scarborough led 12-7.
The entertainment continued in a hard-fought second quarter and Driffield grabbed the lead back in the 32nd minute when following a series of drives to the visitor’s line, back row James Dinsdale drive over; Murray converted to nudge his side 14-12 ahead.
The see-saw nature of the game continued with Ratcliffe and scrum-half Jake Rollinson taking the game to the home side with Farrell and Parker punching holes through the middle and number eight Nick Ingham in the thick of things. And the Seasiders got their reward with the last play of the half when, following a series of attacking scrums, the Driffield eight infringed as a push-over was about to be scored and the referee awarded a penalty try which Ratcliffe converted for a 19-14 Scarborough lead at half-time.
Driffield made a lively start to the second half and it took them just five minutes to snatch the lead back when a break from fly-half Murray sent McGill off on a searing run down the right touchline. The flying wingman left Jeffrey on his backside with a couple of sinewy sidesteps before cutting into to score between the uprights. Murray finished off what he’d started, and converted for a 21-19 lead.
Scarborough tightened their grip on the game following that reverse and dominated the forward exchanges with solid, organized defence and some shuddering tackles which pinned the Woldsmen in their own half. Tom Harrison came on for Ratcliffe, who was substituted as a precaution but the visitors continued to press and it was no surprise when following good work by the midfield, Billy Parker powered over in the 58th minute for a 24-21 lead. Man-of-the-match Craig Farrell failed to convert.
The final quarter of the game was scoreless but not for the want of trying by a Scarborough side which dominated possession and territory and Driffield who looked dangerous on the break.
SCARBOROUGH (squad): Jeffrey, Lenton, Parker, Farrell, Lucas, Rollinson, Ratcliffe, Fish, Williams, Taylor, Oxtoby, Hoggard, Day, Sutton, Ingham, Hill, Harrison.