Scarborough blew hot and cold in their North-east decider in the National Intermediate Cup at Newcastle against Medicals, racing into a 24-3 lead but then needing two late tries to net a 34-24 win and earn a home draw in the quarter-finals of the competition.
The Seasiders got off to the perfect start scoring within a minute of kick-off, they won possession just outside the Medics 22, moved the ball wide left and wing Harry Domett scampered over in the corner.
Fly-half Tom Harrison added the extras from the touchline for a 7-0 lead.
They continued to press deep in the home half and when Medicals infringed at a ruck Harrison kicked the resulting penalty from 20 metres for 10-0 in the ninth minute.
The Medics were having a horrible opening quarter with a string of handling errors and dropped passes; however they had the upper hand at the set scrum where their small cohesive pack had the better of things.
However good work by the Scarborough midfield saw Domett released in the 20th minute to glide over and Harrison converted for a 17-0 lead.
The Newcastle-based side got a toehold in the game in the 26th minute when winger Dave Swetman opened their account and reduced the arrears to 14 points at 17-3 with a penalty when Scarborough infringed in front of their posts.
However, when they lost possession in their own half Harrison pounced and shot a long pass out to centre Tom Ratcliffe, who plucked it from the air and powered over in the 34th minute. Harrison converted for 24-3 and it all seemed plain sailing.
I’m not sure if overconfidence crept in to the Scarborough ranks but their intensity dropped and Medicals worked their way up-field and camped in the Scarborough 22.
And when they were awarded a penalty for offside in front of the visitors’ posts, the ball was moved wide left for Swetman to score in the corner and convert to reduce the arrears at 24-10 on the stroke of half-time.
To say the Seasiders went off the boil after the break would be doing the home side a disservice because they really took the game to the visitors who were rocked onto the backfoot and it was no surprise when back-row Will Sayer powered over from short range in the 50th minute following pressure on the Scarborough line. Swetman added the extras to pin the visitors back to 24-17.
It was game-on and the Geordies laid siege to the Scarborough line.
The men from Silver Royd defended in depth and flanker Eamon Chapman was everywhere and his back row colleagues Matthew Else and substitute Hayden Ogilvie and the rest of the side battled to stem the tide.
But something had to give and scrum-half Ollie Baines found a gap on the hour to squeeze over, Swetman converted to level the scores at 24-24.
Having ruled the roost for the first half hour of the game Scarborough were now struggling to get out of their own 22 and it looked as if the lively Medics were poised for a dramatic late winner to cap a terrific fightback.
However, the Scarborough side dug deep and defended as if their lives depended on it.
The Medics threw everything at them for 11 nail-biting minutes for both sets of supporters but somehow they managed to keep their line intact.
Coach Lee Douglas introduced Jordi Wakeham and Nick Ingham at this point and the quick-thinking young scrum-half and the big lock forward freshened things up for the visitors.
The siege was eventually broken and the Seasiders made progress up-field with ball in hand and when Medicals infringed on halfway, Harrison found touch just outside the home 22 with his kick.
Scarborough drove to the line from the lineout where the Medics defended with ferocity but when Wesley Langkilde added his considerable weight to proceedings there was no stopping the big prop and he powered over from close range in the 74th minute.
Harrison missed his first kick of the afternoon but Scarborough led 29-24.
Skipper Tom Ratcliffe’s men still had defending to do and only a last-ditch Harry Domett tackle in the corner and a tap tackle from Harrison prevented what would have been winning Medicals tries.
Scarborough kept possession with a series of pick-and-drives and some good combination work between Harrison, Wakeman and full-back Tomasz Chadwick took play into the home 22 wide on the Scarborough right.
With the game going into injury-time, the visitors edged to the line wide on their right before the ball was popped inside and Langkilde was unstoppable from a couple of yards.
Harrison failed to convert but the Scarborough celebrations had already begun.
This was a patchy performance from Scarborough, who had a sizeable travelling support suffering from heart-in-mouth syndrome for most of the second half.
They made a great start to the game scoring three good tries but drifted out of it when Medicals, who looked something akin to a social side in the first40 minutes, fought back and looked the real deal in the second half.
What turned the game for the Seasiders’ was their 11-minute defensive effort on their own line after the Medics equalized.
Pick of the forwards were Mark Hopper, Ian Williams, Mikey Readman, Eamon Chapman and Taylor Smith.
Behind them Harry Domett, Tom Harrison and Jordi Wakeham were the pick of the backs.