Following a lack-lustre display on the road at Knottingley, Scarborough worked hard through the week and bounced back with a committed performance against high-flying Keighley in front of a big turnout at Silver Royd.
However, once again a lack of composure in the ‘kill zone’ and lapses of concentration in defence late in the game saw them concede a penalty which consigned them to their fourth defeat in five games.
Scarborough looked the livelier of the sides in the opening exchanges with fullback Rob James mixing things up with some swift excursions out of defence and some raking kicks which turned the Keighley defence.
And a superb catch from a misdirected kick out of defence saw the young Aussie glide over the gain-line into the visitors’ half where some efficient scrambling defence with flanker Scott Dyson to the fore averted danger.
The end to end nature of the game was providing great entertainment for the Silver Royd faithful but their enjoyment of proceedings was severely curtailed when a gaping hole in the Scarborough defensive line parted like the Red Sea at a tackle situation on the home 22 and right wing Harry Titley squeezed the gap and powered to the line for the opening try in the 14th minute.
Fullback Alex Brown added the extras for a 7-0 lead in the 14th minute. Scarborough struck back almost immediately when a Tom Harrison line kick took them way downfield where the visitors infringed in their own 22 and the home fly-half kicked the resulting penalty to reduce the arrears at 7-3 in the 17th minute.
The Seasiders then laid siege to the Keighley line as James, Harrison, centres Graeme Jeffrey and Tom Ratcliffe turned the screw swarming all over a beleaguered visiting defence. However they tended to over elaborate when a more direct approach would have done the job and hard defensive graft from skipper Lee Sugden and flanker Dyson relieved the pressure and the visitors cleared their lines.
Further pressure produced a Scarborough penalty wide on their left in the 26th minute but Harrison pulled it wide. However when a Scarborough lineout on halfway opened up the field, Ratcliffe powered through a floundering Keighley defence leaving a string of would-be tacklers in his wake before dummying outside and in to romp over for Silver Royd’s try of the season in the 31st minute.
Harrison converted for 10-7. Good work by Sugden looked as if it had produced a certain try when he released centre Danny Price with the line at his mercy but a terrific try-saving tackle by Ratcliffe caused his opposite number to spill the ball when it looked easier to score.
Harrison had a chance to stretch the Scarborough lead on the stroke of halftime with a penalty in front of the posts 35 metres out but pulled his kick and Scarborough led 10-7 at the break.
A battle ensued after the break with Scarborough taking control of the third quarter with Harrison, James, Jeffrey and prop Nino Cutino looking to attack at every opportunity but although the back row battled, they just could not match the visiting loose three for cohesion.
And at the set scrums scrum-half Lucas Uren was a real handful for young Scarborough number nine Jake Rollinson who should have been afforded more protection from his back row.
Ratcliffe had chance to get what could have been the decisive score on the hour when he just failed to take an interception on the visitors ten metre line which would have left him with a clear run in on goal. And five minutes later a surging run by Harrison saw him release new wing Corey Dennis, whose blistering pace almost took him to the line.
However good cover defence from the visitors saw the chance snuffed out just short.
Keighley worked up-field from deep in their own half and battered away at the Scarborough line but were thwarted by stout defence.
However when a Scarborough player went off his feet at a ruck, Brown kicked the penalty from in front of the uprights to level the scores at 10-10 in the 64th minute.
Following good work by the forwards Scarborough had the put-in at two separate scrums just under the Keighley posts but on both occasions a lack of composure and control saw them lose possession and both chances were gone.
And when the visitors moved the ball down their left flank through wing Sam Walker a certain try looked on before debutant winger Dennis stopped him in his tracks with a crunching tackle.
However, when the Seasiders infringed in front of their own posts in the 75th minute, Brown nudged his side 13-10 ahead with the resulting penalty.
Scarborough did have a chance to grab a draw in the 80th minute but Harrison penalty from the touchline drifted inches wide of the left upright.
Scarborough created enough chances to have won this game but for the sixth time this season they lost by less than a score.
Coach Dave Beck’s charges will only gain the collective confidence to break the losing habit and start to win these close games when they add composure and concentration to the abundant individual natural ability in the squad.