Lee Douglas’ Scarborough RUFC side lost out 22-20 - their first defeat of the season - in a thrilling Yorkshire One game at Selby, having led 20-6 at half-time.
I really don’t know if it’s mindset, fitness or lack of concentration but for the third time in a game this season Scarborough have raced to a substantial half-time lead playing exciting incisive rugby only to go completely off the boil and fail to score a single point in the second half.
On the previous two occasions defensive resilience earned the Seasiders the win but in a stirring fightback which included two well-taken tries, a late penalty earned Selby the win in a thrilling finish.
Selby made a lively start and were three points to the good within a couple of minutes when fly-half Josh Cruise kicked the penalty when the Scarborough defence strayed offside in front of their own posts. The visitors came straight back with some mighty line clearances by fly-half Tom Harrison which took play deep into home territory. And from first phase play, centre Benji Cottle went on one of his trademark mazy runs beating a string of defenders before touching down to the right of the posts in the seventh minute.
Wing Tom Ratcliffe converted to nudge the visitors 7-3 ahead and added a penalty goal four minutes later for 10-3.
With Cottle, Ratcliffe, fullback Graeme Jeffrey and Harrison attacking with pace from deep Selby were finding it difficult to cope and the visitors should have had another touchdown when Zybnec Schutz was released by Cottle; however the Czech international winger spurned a two man overlap to go for the line himself, was tackled short and the chance had gone.
Chances were coming thick and fast and first Ratcliffe and then fast-improving flanker Blake Nightingale were stopped inches short of the line. Then prop and skipper Nino Cutino powered over from an attacking line-out only for his effort to be disallowed for a knock-on.
White line fever ensued and Scarborough had several chances to be out of sight but a lack of composure saw them contrive to fail when it would have been easier to score. Ratcliffe stretched the visitors’ lead to 13-3 with a penalty in the 25th minute when the Selby defence stayed offside under intense pressure. However in a rare incursion into the visitors’ half Cruise reduced the arrears to seven points with a penalty when Scarborough lock Mikey Readman was penalised for a high tackle.
The half ended on a high note for Scarborough when Selby lost possession on halfway and the ball was moved through five pairs of hands with Jeffrey and Cottle heavily involved before Schutz was released to canter over wide on the right in the 38th minute; Ratcliffe added the difficult wide conversion for a 20-6 lead at the interval.
Selby made a perfect start to the second half with a try within a couple of minutes of the re-start, moving a penalty just inside the visitors 22 left to right for wing Alex Hare to scamper over in the corner to cut the lead to 20-11. The game swung from end to end with Selby perhaps getting the edge at the breakdown. Scarborough conceded a string of penalties and centre Jan Teiber was sin-binned.
The Seasiders continued to play positive rugby and Cottle, Harrison (with a superb chip and chase) and some great incisive running from Jeffrey put pressure on the home side although they were failing to break tackles as they had done in the first 40 minutes.
Scarborough exerted pressure with a series of attacking scrums deep in the home 22 on the hour and when the ball was moved infield Cutino was penalized for not releasing inches from the line.
Selby took advantage of that let-off and when centre Sam Weller brushed of a Harrison tackle in midfield, he moved the ball swiftly left for centre Teihana Brown to power over in the 70th minute. Cruise failed to convert and it was a single point game at 20-19.
Coach Douglas’ men always looked as if they could score and went close several times in the final 10 minutes.
However when a loose clearance was fielded by Weller, the visitors infringed offside at an ensuing ruck and Cruise kicked the difficult penalty chance to grab the lead at 22-20 with four minutes to go.
Scarborough pressed to the end and had a chance to win it at the death when they had the chance to go over wide on their left but somehow contrived to butcher an overlap.
They also turned down a couple of penalty chances which if successful would have given them a single-point win. That’s about game management and decision making and I’m sure rookie stand-in skipper Cutino will learn from that.