Scarborough recorded their first league victory over visitors Driffield in 25 years pipping the Woldsmen by a single point, 21-20, in a pulsating Yorkshire One encounter at Silver Royd which ended in dramatic fashion.
As to be expected in a local derby the opening exchanges were feisty however the Seasiders conceded far too many penalties and visiting South African fullback Danny Smith having missed a penalty in the third minute, slotted a beauty four minutes later from 35 metres when Scarborough were penalised for chatting back to referee Dave Lindsay.
The men from Silver Royd quickly settled and looked to break the Driffield defensive line with bullocking runs from front rowers Nino Cutino, Jaxon Tite and Luke Raines; flyhalf Phil Stewart, skipper Phil Watson and particularly open side flanker Ben Wilson were also in the thick of the action.
And in the 10th minute a hole punched in the visitors’ defence saw fullback Tom Harrison steam through, the ball was moved through hands right and young winger Matty Young outstripped the wide defence to score in the corner. Harrison just missed the touchline conversion.
Driffield, looking for an instant reply, moved the ball left from a ruck in the home half and sent wingman Robin McGill scampering down the touchline but solid Scarborough cover defence saw the danger snuffed out and the number eleven was bundled into touch and the danger averted.
One shuddering try-saving tackle in front of his own posts by centre Billy Parker could almost be felt in the stands!
Scarborough took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second quarter and their aggression at the breakdown unfazed the visitors. Under pressure Driffield lost some discipline and long distance penalties from centre Tom Ratcliffe in the 19th and 29th minutes stretched the lead to 11-3.
A reoccurrence of an ankle injury saw Raines replaced in the front row by Jamie Drayton. Driffield came back strongly in the last 10 minutes of the half and having taken a strike against the head in the 40th minute, the ball was moved left for replacement hooker Simon Pettinger to blast over. Smith missed the touchline conversion and Scarborough led 11-8 at the break.
Driffield made a good start to the second half but so many of their efforts foundered on the rock that was Wilson, who was having a great game.
Playing through their slick handling forwards with Stewart also in the thick of the action, the Seasiders kept up the pressure but the home side didn’t have everything their own way; however they defended with conviction and stretched their lead to 14-8 in the 65th minute when Ratcliffe slotted a penalty from 20 metres when Driffield were caught offside.
And three minutes later the big Scarborough centre intercepted a long loose pass on half-way and galloped to the posts to touchdown and convert his own effort for 21-8.
Driffield struck back almost immediately when substitute Callum Donkin made a break on halfway and released wing Rob Murray who took advantage of a couple of loose tackles to score under the posts. Smith added the extras to reduce the arrears to six points at 21-15 in the 70th minute.
To their credit the visitors redoubled their efforts and going into the dying minutes of the game they camped in the Scarborough 22.
A knock-on saw Driffield awarded a scrum in front of the posts in injury-time. The ball was moved right from the scrum and Smith squeezed over near the corner flag.
A deathly hush fell over Silver Royd as the visiting fullback lined up his kick which just missed the upright and the ground erupted as Scarborough squeezed home by the narrowest of margins.
This thrilling game was a great advert for Yorkshire One rugby and it was a pity someone had to lose.
Coach Jason Lowde’s stated aim to play exciting rugby certainly took shape in this game where his charges played with ambition and steely defence.
A dynamic ball-handling pack was the basis of this success with Nino Cutino and Ben Wilson turning in great performances.
Phil Stewart and Jake Rollinson linked well with a dangerous back line in which Tom Ratcliffe has hardly missed a stride from a summer of rugby league to score 27 points in the last couple of games. Tom Harrison at fullback had an outstanding game.
Scarborough: Harrison, Young, Ratcliffe, Parker, Dennis, Stewart, Rollinson, Cutino, Tite, Raines, Watson (capt), Hoggard, Purdy, Wilson, Austen. Substitutes: Drayton, Warren, White (all used)
Driffield: Smith, Murray, Kitching, Wright (capt), McGill, Harding, Bell, Proctor, Holland, Llewellyn, Borman, Cooper, Homilton, Cowan, Grant, Substitutes: Dervey Pettinger Donkin (all used)
Referee: Mr Dave Lindsay Attendance: 434
Read Thursday’s Scarborough News for Dave Campbell’s From the Touchline page, Tom Harrison’s junior summary and Jason Lowde’s column as well as more pictures from the Scarborough v Driffield match