Scarborough raced to a commanding 24-7 lead with three superb tries in the opening half-hour at Middlesbrough, however they never recovered from losing on-fire Tomasz Chadwick injured just before the break and Harry Domett who was red-carded shortly after it and slumped to an unlikely 26-24 defeat given their earlier dominance.
The visitors went off like a train and pressured the Middlesbrough defensive line in their opening foray into home territory.
And when they pounced on a fumble just outside the home 22, flanker Eamon Chapman powered over for the opening score of the match with only three minutes on the clock.
Fly-half Tomasz Chadwick made no mistake with the difficult conversion for a 7-0 Scarborough lead.
The Seasiders continued to press and looked the sharper of the sides with Chapman, Matthew Else and Taylor Smith winning the back row battle and Chadwick, Marshall and Domett looking very dangerous.
Middlesbrough almost had the equalising try in the 10th minute when fly-half Simon O’Farrell went over following some good work by his forwards; however the big number 10’s effort was ruled out due to obstruction in the lead up to the touchdown.
Middlesbrough were penalized a couple of times just inside their own half in the opening quarter of an hour but Chadwick’s long range penalty efforts didn’t have the legs. However, following a scrum on halfway, clean ball was moved left and Domett set off on a jinking run; the flying Kiwi waltzed round three men before releasing fullback Tom Harrison who scampered in under the posts in the 18th minute. Skipper Tom Ratcliffe added the extras for 14-0.
Scarborough’s kicking from hand was letting them down and several misdirected clearances found Middlesbrough players who returned them with interest.
A bustling break by O’Farrell almost took him to the Scarborough line but a great cover tackle by Harrison stopped him in his tracks.
The Teessiders remained camped in the visitors 22 and a couple of minutes later Scarborough were undone by their ‘bête noire’ the catch-and-drive and No8 Iain Bradford burrowed over to score.
Full-back Jack Bircham’s touchline conversion reduced the arrears to seven points in the 27th minute.
Skipper Tom Ratcliffe’s men continued to look sharp and incisive and when clean ball from a lineout wide on the right was moved swiftly infield, Chadwick was onto it in a flash and leaving a posse of would-be tacklers in his wake scored a superb try underneath the posts. Ratcliffe converted for 21-7 in the 29th minute.
Middlesbrough were penalised from the restart and the big centre stroked over a towering long-distance kick for 24-7 on the half-hour.
Scarborough then had a five metre scrum to defend and having successful done so, cleared their lines.
They continued to attack through the backs with pace in the minutes before the break and should have stretched their lead when another powerful Domett run was stopped short with Chadwick up in support.
Chadwick then pounced on a loose ball in midfield and sprinted off for the line; he failed to see Domett on his shoulder and was tackled short before he could get his pass away injuring ankle ligaments in the process and was helped from the field just before half-time.
With Phil Stewart on for Chadwick, the visitors were under siege from the restart; good work by the Middlesbrough forwards set up field position wide right in the Scarborough 22.
And following some desperately poor Scarborough tackling, Middlesbrough wing Adam Nolson strolled over for a soft try in the 46th minute. Bircham converted to reduce the arrears at 24-14.
Domett spoke to referee Jason Garrick about a Scarborough player who was down injured and was immediately yellow-carded.
As he left the field the he apparently laughed at the official a fellow Kiwi and was immediately red-carded and dismissed.
Scarborough came straight back and a well judged high ball from scrumhalf Jordi Wakeham was won by Joe Marshall; the young wing charged forward but was stopped just short of the line and was penalized for not releasing.
That was to prove costly as Middlesbrough scrum-half Peter Wright subsequently broke from half way brushing aside some poor attempted tackles and scored wide on the right in the 52nd minute. Bircham failed to convert.
The Teessiders were now running the show and O’Farrell broke from inside his own half leaving a trail of would-be tacklers in his wake before grounding under the posts. Bircham converted to grab the lead at 26-24 on the hour.
The Teessiders took control and bossed the fourth quarter with Scarborough unable to get out of their own half.
Half-backs O’Farrell and Wright ruled the roost and injury to hooker Ian Williams disrupted the pack with Jesse Macdonald, Paul Taylor and Mark Hopper making a reasonable fist of things in the reshuffled front row.
There was no further score in the game thanks to a tightening of the Scarborough defence with Chapman and Stewart to the fore but in the absence of Chadwick and Domett they faded out of the game as an attacking force and Middlesbrough finished narrow but comfortable winners.
In the end it was a deeply frustrating afternoon which promised so much in the opening40 minutes.
The loss of Chadwick and Domett had a huge influence on the outcome of the game and heads undoubtedly went down as did performances around the paddock. Some of the tackling in the second half was desperately disappointing.
Coach Lee Douglas and his charges must be wondering where on earth their next win will come from having led 24-7 and lost this one to a frankly ordinary Middlesbrough side.