Scarborough made a winning start to their league campaign on the road at Keighley with a dynamic display against a side relegated from North One at the end of last season and looking to bounce straight back up.
Scarborough started with new Kiwi arrivals Benji Cottle at centre and Blake Nightingale in the back row. Tom Ratcliffe was at full-back with Graeme Jeffrey on the wing.
Keighley kicked off and drove into Scarborough territory, but a knock-on produced the first scrum of the game where the visiting eight conceded a penalty and Ratcliffe pushed play into the home 22 with his kick.
The visitors couldn’t make their first visit to the Keighley 22 count and thrilling end-to-end stuff ensued with some cracking rugby played by both sides.
Ratcliffe hit the post with a penalty attempt which was cleared in the 11th minute but as the quarter progressed good work by centres Cottle and Jan Tieber was rattling the Keighley mid-field defence.
A knock-on following a catch-and-drive saw one chance go begging in the 20th minute but when the move was repeated three minutes later following a lineout from a penalty, a long pass from fly-half Tom Harrison released Cottle, who handed off his opposite number Kelly and powered over. Ratcliffe added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Keighley struck back quickly, as a perfect re-start saw the west-Yorkshiremen drive deep into Scarborough territory and while the visitors were contemplating their first score, centre Ben Blackwell carved his way through a somnambulant defence to touchdown in the 25th minute. Blackwell failed to convert his own effort.
The half ended with a feast of attacking rugby from both sides which entertained the surprisingly sparse turnout but failed to produce another score and Scarborough held a two point advantage at the break.
Both sides started the second half as they had finished the first, looking to play positively; the forwards were having a ding-dong battle and great work by Scarborough’s Cottle and Schutz and Keighley number eight Scott Dyson lit up the opening exchanges.
Scarborough widened the gap to five points in the 51st minute when Ratcliffe kicked a penalty when the west Yorkshiremen infringed 27 metres out and the Seasiders extended that to ten on the hour when a solid scrum in the Keighley half led to a superb break from Cottle who freed prop Nino Cutino to bustle to the line. Ratcliffe converted for 17-5.
As in the first half Scarborough nodded off following a score and conceded almost immediately, Blackwell gaining possession midway in the visitors’ half, dismissively swatting aside some poor non-tackles and scampering down the touchline to score. Once again the talented centre failed to add the extra points.
The final quarter was a frenetic affair with both sides going close; a driving run into the Scarborough 22 by Dyson was stopped by great work from the visitors’ back row which by now had Henry Gray on for Matty Else.
Keighley then spent an extended period on the visitors’ line but outstanding defence kept them at bay.
Good work by Cottle, Schutz, Harrison and Ratcliffe made several chances for the visitors in the closing stages of the game and had a further Ratcliffe penalty not found the woodwork again, their worries may have been eased. It looked as if they had clinched the game in the dying seconds as Matt Lucas crossed following great work by Cottle but Mr Mulligan spotted a brush with the touchline and the young wing’s effort was disallowed.
Both sides had their moments at the death but Scarborough maintained their shape and their seven point lead to record a deserved first league win of the season.
This game was a great advert for Yorkshire One with entertaining rugby played in a great spirit coming from both sides.
For Scarborough the pack, with their youthful front row more than held their own against an eight which played at level Six last season.
Half-backs Harrison and Schutz were an effective link between forwards and backs and behind them new centre pairing of Jan Tieber and Benji Cottle had a big influence on the result; especially Cottle who had an outstanding debut in a Scarborough shirt. It’s early days but Coach Lee Douglas must have been encouraged by his charges’ efforts.