Scarborough made a solid start against league-leaders Huddersfield YMCA at a blustery Silver Royd but having gifted their high-flying opponents two soft tries in the first quarter, slid to their biggest defeat of the season.
The Seasiders had the best of the early exchanges playing into a southerly breeze and drove deep into YM territory; pressure on the visitors’ retreating defensive line saw centre Lloyd Bentley creep offside and Tom Ratcliffe kicked Scarborough into a 3-0 lead in the second minute with the resulting penalty.
An exchange of booming kicks out of hand between Scarborough full-back Tom Harrison and YM fly-half Ed Barber ended with the latter putting an inch perfect effort a metre short of the corner flag on the home line. And while a somnambulant Scarborough defence dithered, a quick throw-in found hooker Sam Hodge who flopped over to open the visitors’ account in the 11th minute. Barber’s conversion attempt had the direction but not the legs and Huddersfield led 5-3.
Skipper Phil Watson’s men then had their best period of the game and with a modicum of luck could have had a couple of tries. Both chances were off the back of good work by Tom Ratcliffe; the first following a catch-and-drive when a well-judged kick by the big centre took his side to the YM five metres line and Billy Parker was stopped on the line and the second when he powered through a gap 30 metres out and released winger Matty Young who was tackled into touch with the line millimetres away.
However Scarborough pressure eventually told when the visitors infringed just outside their 22 and Ratcliffe got his just reward and edged his side 6-5 ahead with the penalty in the 20th minute.
Scarborough effectively lost the game in the 10 minutes that followed when fly-half Phil Stewart was stripped of the ball on his own 22 by visiting centre Adam Ryder who had a clear run to the line in the 23rd minute. Winger Gavin Stead converted for 12-6. Having re-shuffled their front row four minutes later, Scarborough lost the next scrum against the head and fly-half Barber crossed for the visitors. Stead added the extras for 19-6. And just before the half-hour, an attacking line-out following a penalty saw the visitors drive to the line and No8 Stuart Dyke got the touch. Stead missed the conversion and Scarborough survived some late first half pressure to trail 6-24 at the break. Stewart was sin-binned during this period and Tom Harrison moved to fly-half.
Huddersfield started the second half as they had finished the first, driving deep into home territory; a solid scrum wide on the right saw the visitors secure clean ball and swift hands saw Stead cut infield, brush aside some flimsy defence and score underneath the posts in the 45th minute before adding the extras for 31-13.
To Scarborough’s credit their heads never went down and the ensuing 30 minutes was pretty evenly fought with YM having a real game on their hands. And while Scarborough’s efforts never really looked like getting them back into contention their efforts at the breakdown and in the contact area meant that a well-drilled Huddersfield side were never going to run away with the game. In the backs Graeme Jeffrey and Tom Ratcliffe were always a threat while up front flanker Nino Cutino, Tommy Goodman, Luke Raines and skipper Phil Watson took the plaudits.
And the Seasiders got their reward with five minutes of the game to go; when following pressure on the visitors’ line Mikey Readman drove over for a well worked try. Ratcliffe converted to reduce the arrears at 31-13.
The game ended bizarrely when Tom Harrison attempted to repeat a cross-field kick from behind his own line which had found Graeme Jeffrey five minutes earlier when the Scarborough full-back was applauded for his innovation. However the goalposts intervened on this occasion and the ball ricocheted into the waiting arms of YM substitute Josh Rafter who strolled over to score. Stead added the extras for 38-13 and a well-deserved win.
Huddersfield were a sharp, fit well drilled side that were good value for their five try bonus point win which keeps them in top spot in Yorkshire One. They were however gifted three soft tries by a profligate Scarborough side which battled throughout and had a couple of good spells in the game; however although the dominated the lineout they never achieved the consistency of performance elsewhere to compete for the full 80 minutes in this game.