Scarborough 22 Bridlington 36
Scarborough saved their most inept performance of the season for this festive foray into the Yorkshire Shield, conceding five tries to a Bridlington side without a win on the road since September.
Playing with the benefit of a stiff northerly breeze, Scarborough made the early running and it was no surprise when fly-half Tom Harrison kicked a long-range penalty from the visitors’ 10 metre line in the fifth minute.
The Seasiders had a fair bit of early pressure but couldn’t dent a solid Bridlington defence and when some great work by visiting No8 James Thomson and his back-row colleagues took play deep into Scarborough territory, fly-half Tom Kemp kicked the equalising penalty when Scarborough No8 Matthew Else infringed and was yellow carded in the 15th minute.
With the wind behind them Scarborough’s tactic was to kick deep and turn the visitors’ back three, however full-back Gareth Roberts and wingmen Gary Stevens and Will Davies were up to the task, and when Bridlington won ball on half-way wide on the left, swift hands augmented by some woeful Scarborough tackling sent Davies scampering in to nudge the visitors’ 8-3 ahead in the 19th minute. Kemp failed to convert into the wind.
Scarborough pegged the score back to 8-6 almost immediately with a further long-distance Harrison penalty in the 21st minute.
Bridlington however looked the sharper of the two sides, particularly at the breakdown where Scarborough’s ball retention really let them down.
It was no surprise when, following a short period of pressure on the home line, prop Ntsekayomzi Daka, who was having an influential game, barged over from close range in the 31st minute to stretch the visitors’ lead to 13-6.
The men from Silver Royd attempted to use the wind to their advantage but continued to kick down the throats of the Bridlington defence for whom centres Jamie Martin and Ryan Girking, prop Daka and James Thomson gave the home defence plenty of work to do.
Harrison reduced the arrears to four points at 13-9 with a 34th minute penalty, but following slick work in the visitors’ midfield and another series of Scarborough non-tackles, full-back Roberts, up in support, powered over for Bridlington’s third try of the half and an 18-9 lead in the 39th minute.
Harrison kicked his fourth penalty of the half a minute later and the men from Dukes Park went to the break 18-12 ahead.
Kicking off the second half with the wind behind them, Bridlington made early in-roads but Scarborough looked much livelier than in the first 40 minutes.
However following a Harrison penalty miss the home side made a mess of promising possession on half-way and a Bridlington boot intervened to hack towards the Scarborough line.
Full-back Corey Dennis and winger Joe Marshall looked hesitant as they ran back to cover and Will Davies nipped in between them to get the touch for 23-12 in the 52nd minute. And although Kemp missed the conversion, his penalty four minutes later stretched the Bridlington lead to 26-12.
Scarborough got their driving game going and made a contest of it in the fourth quarter, and from a scrum just inside the visitors 22, clean ball was moved left and centre Graeme Jeffrey powered over for his side’s first try of the afternoon to reduce the arrears to nine points at 26-17 in the 62nd minute.
A third Kemp penalty stretched the lead to 29-17 in the 70th minute.
Scarborough never threw the towel in and reduced the arrears with five minutes to go when a blistering run from full-back Dennis released winger Joe Marshall to score wide on the right.
Bridlington added the icing to their Christmas cake in injury-time when Scarborough made a hash of a 22 re-start and the visitors regained possession to send Kirking in to the left of the uprights. Kemp completed Scarborough’s nightmare before Christmas with the conversion for a well-deserved 36-22 Bridlington win.
Scarborough were outplayed by a Bridlington side with more desire and commitment in a game played in difficult windy conditions.
Skipper Tom Ratcliffe’s men were always second best at the breakdown and their ball retention and tackling was poor. Up front lock Nick Ingham and flanker Eamon Chapman work tirelessly, while Harrison and Dennis took the plaudits in the backs but in reality coach Lee Douglas’ charges never really turned up for this one which was disappointing for the Scarborough faithful who did.