Visitors Scarborough continued their unbeaten start to the season with a winning combination of pace, power and aggression against newly-promoted Barnsley in blistering temperatures at Shaw Lane.
Kicking off, Scarborough had the best of the earlier exchanges, getting first to the breakdown and generally playing in the faces of a somewhat pedestrian Barnsley side.
With Prop Luke Raines unavailable Paul Taylor was moved up from the bench to the front row which in concert with a dynamic back row of Chris Purdy, Phil Austen and Ben Wilson rocked the south Yorkshiremen onto the back foot. Attacking down their right flank, the Seasiders’ went close through Nino Cutino twice in the opening ten minutes when the final pass just failed to go to hand and from a turnover on halfway fullback Tom Harrison almost made it to the Barnsley line only to be held up by some good scrambling defence.
In a rare incursion into Scarborough territory centre Andy Smith spilled the ball and Harrison gathered and hoofed the ‘gift’ 40 metres downfield for a lineout just outside the home 22.
The Barnsley backs drifted offside when the visitors moved the ball infield and centre Tom Ratcliffe kicked the resulting penalty for a 3-0 lead in the 10th minute.
The south Yorkshiremen came back strongly and only a crunching tackle by Cutino saved what could have been an interception try from a loose Scarborough mid-field pass. Although Barnsley were achieving parity in possession, their lack of pace was exposed by the swift and aggressive visiting back row with open-side Ben Wilson everywhere.
The home side’s most potent weapon was the catch-and-drive from the lineout which was Scarborough’s only weakness in an otherwise solid first half performance; however when they moved the ball infield they were inevitably driven back by the visiting mid-field with half-backs Phil Stewart and scrum-half Jake Rollinson, who had a stormer, outstanding.
Skipper Phil Watson’s men continued to vary their attack with Ratcliffe, Stewart, Harrison and winger Corey Dennis going close wide on the left. However when the home side were penalized at a scrum, a quick tap penalty released No8 Austen who powered over for the opening try of the match in the 25th minute.
Ratcliffe added the extras for 10-0 and stretched the lead to 13-0 four minutes later with his second penalty of the afternoon.
Barnsley came back strongly at the end of the half and Scarborough seemed to have weathered the storm when they earned the put-in at a defensive scrum in the 40th minute; however a mix up at the back of the scrum saw the home side regain possession, move the ball wide and centre Aaron Gaunt crashed over from short range.
Full-back Josh Smith missed the conversion and Scarborough led 13-5 at the interval.
Barnsley continued where they had left off before the break with a good spell at the start of the second half and spent some time in Scarborough territory. The visitors seemed to have cleared the danger but turned over possession and fly-half Andrew Appleyard brushed past some surprisingly poor tackles to score near the posts in the 49th minute. Fullback Smith fluffed what should have been a simple conversion from in front of the posts.
With the lead reduced to three points at 13-10 Coach Jason Lowde moved Harrison to fly-half and Graeme Jeffrey came on for his first competitive game of the season at fullback. As a result the visitor’s played with increased pace and in their next attack Barnsley’s towering lock forward Jordan Wood was penalized for not releasing and goal-magnet Ratcliffe made it 16-10 with the kick in the 52nd minute. And pressure on the home defensive line saw Nino Cutino get involved in a threequarters move before bursting through the centre to power over on the hour,
Ratcliffe converting for 23-10. Barnsley looked close the gap immediately and camped in the visitors’ 22 for the next five minutes but failed to crack a solid Scarborough defence before great work by Paul Taylor, Purdy and Austen gave Harrison the opportunity for a massive 40 metre clearance deep into the Barnsley half. The home side infringed and Ratcliffe once again punished them with his unerring boot from 35 metres to stretch the lead to 26-10 in the 66th minute.
Barnsley threw everything at the Seasiders in the last ten minutes of the game but the visiting defence was more than up to the task and a great Billy Parker tackle snuffed out the home side’s last chance of a consolation try. And when Gaunt spilled the ball on halfway in the 79th minute, Wilson was onto it in a flash and outstripped the entire home back line to score from 40 metres out. Tom Ratcliffe completed his 100% effort with the conversion to bag 18 points and see his side to a 33-10 win.
Another convincing display, this time on the road, saw Scarborough pick up another four league points with a great team performance. Coach Jason Lowde’s charges just had too much for a determined but one dimensional Barnsley outfit and apart from a wobble either side of the break, had the upper hand for most of a game played in soaring temperatures. Up front the pack was more than a handful for the home eight although some set scrums and a lot of lineouts in particular were poor.
Pick of the eight was Nino Cutino, Ben Wilson and Phil Austen. Behind them there wasn’t a weak link; however Harrison was outstanding with ball in hand and with his boot as was Tom Ratcliffe whose metronomic kicking kept the scoreboard ticking over all afternoon. Scrum-half Jake Rollinson also had an influential game. In the end both sides did extremely well to provide such an entertaining game in the conditions.
Scarborough: Harrison Young Ratcliffe Parker Dennis Stewart Rollinson Cutino Tite Taylor Watson(capt) Hoggard Purdy Wilson Austen. Substitutes: Fish, Warren and Jeffrey (all used)
Barnsley: J.Smith A.Smith Gaunt Jeffery Simpson Appleyard Francis A.Smith Cheetam Hobson Wood Norris South Wragg Reed (capt) Substitutes: Robinson Naisby Fisher (all used)
Referee: Mr Brian Mulligan – Yorkshire Central Society