York and Scarborough defied the north-westerly gale blowing down the paddock to produce an entertaining game at Clifton Park with the Minstermen just shading it 19-14 with a late try.
York won the toss and decided to play into the wind in the first half and made an enterprising start with some neat handling in the Scarborough half but lost possession and the wind-assisted boot of Scarborough fly-half Tom Harrison took play deep into home territory.
The opening quarter was played predominantly in the York half and highlighted by some powerful driving from the Scarborough pack; however the home defence was up to the task and a lack of composure at the base of rucks and mauls saw the Seasiders pressure go unrewarded apart from a Harrison penalty from the halfway line in the 14th minute for a 3-0 lead.
Playing into the wind, no little skill was needed to move the ball and a break from York’s outside centre Eddy Bradshaw took him through a crowded midfield only to be halted by a crunching tackle from Scarborough No8 Eamon Chapman.
And the Minstermen were no slouches up front as they executed a couple of driving mauls; however they infringed at the breakdown and Harrison kicked his second penalty from half-way for 6-0 in the 25th minute.
Hooker Ian Williams sustained a knee injury in the early exchanges and soldiered on in pain but the cohesion of the tight five was diminished; however from an attacking scrum in the 35th minute scrum-half Jordi Wakeham made a terrific blind-side break and sent winger Joe Marshall in at the corner to stretch the lead to 11-0. Harrison’s touchline conversion attempt missed narrowly but a further long-distance penalty in the 39th minute saw the Seasiders go to the break 14-0 ahead.
With Ian Williams off the paddock at half-time Mark Hopper moved over to hook and Jesse Macdonald played loose-head prop.
Playing with the wind after the break York broke their duck almost immediately when hooker Darren Rutherford barged over from close range following sustained pressure on the Scarborough line in the 44th minute.
Full-back George Davies added the extras to reduce the arrears to seven points.
Prop Paul Taylor was yellow-carded in the 48th minute to be replaced by Wesley Lankild making his first-team debut for the visitors.
York laid siege to the Scarborough line for almost all of the third quarter and only fully committed defence by the whole team kept the relentless Minstermen at bay.
Something had to give and eventually second row David Bates crossed from short range in the 59th minute. Davies converted to level the scores at 14-14.
With the elements behind them in the fourth quarter York should have pushed on from there but surprisingly it was Scarborough who picked up the cudgels; the forwards looked to retain possession with extended ‘pick and goes’ and tight mauls and they made progress into the York half looking to get into range for a score.
The York defensive line held and it looked as if the game would end in stalemate with a draw.
But with only a couple of minutes to go Scarborough lost possession following a scrum and a York boot put the ball behind the advancing Scarborough eight.
The home side broke from deep to send substitute winger Charlie Nicholson scampering up their right touchline; he evaded a couple of poor tackle attempts and scored in the corner to give his side the lead for the first time in the game at 19-14. Davies missed the touchline conversion.
Done and dusted? Not a bit of it; the Seasiders came straight back in injury time and following a Harrison penalty they battered at the York line from a catch and drive.
During this period two York players were sin-binned and a couple of penalties followed; however Scarborough looked to drive over from close-range in the corner with a massive overlap in-field due to gaps in the York defence.
And when the visiting forwards were eventually dragged into touch in-goal the game was over.
Both sides did well to provide such an entertaining game in very trying conditions and Scarborough were a shade unlucky only to take a losing bonus point from the game.
The injury to Ian Williams was a big loss and they missed him in attacking situations close to the line.
However they never garnered enough points in the first forty minutes and although the whole team worked tirelessly, poor execution and decision making at the death cost them dearly.
On a day when the team was the thing, the pick of the forwards were Paul Taylor, Eamon Chapman, Matty Else and Hayden Oglivie.
Behind them Tom Harrison, Jordi Wakeham, Tom Ratcliffe and Joe Marshall took the plaudits.