Scarborough stumbled to their second defeat of the season at struggling Pontefract where they never recovered from a woeful first half performance which saw their much-vaunted defence concede three tries in the opening half hour and their one dimensional repost lacked the guile and penetration to breakdown a defence which had conceded an average 32 points per outing before this game.
Pontefract won the toss and set Scarborough to play the first half into a sun low in the sky; however skipper Tom Harrison’s kick-off was perfectly judged and fielded by Matty Young.
The young winger galloped away down the touchline but when tackled, a Scarborough player went off his feet at the ruck and the west Yorkshiremen cleared their lines from the ensuing penalty.
Slick handling by the home threequarters on halfway took them into the Scarborough 22 and from an attacking lineout centre Matthew Bacon waltzed over to open the scoring in the 3rd minute.
Fly-half Scott Boyd hit the upright with his conversion attempt and Pontefract led 5-0.
Scarborough were struggling to get into the game as their first phase possession was severely curtailed due to an almost complete lack of line-out possession. This part of the Seasiders’ game has been a shambles all season and it is hard to see how they can progress without vast improvement.
Pontefract were flying at this stage and some excellent handling in mid-field had the visiting defence struggling.
And when Scarborough lost possession wide on their left, several missed tackles saw centre Craig Fawcett cross for his side’s second try and a 10-0 lead in the 17th minute. Boyd missed the conversion.
Pontefract were proving a threat running from deep and when his Scarborough opposite number missed his tackle, winger Jordan Gill darted from 22 to 22 where subsequently the Seasiders conceded a lineout.
Not for the first time in the half lock Carl Smith plucked the ball from the air and No8 Guy Pickets brushed aside three defenders to touch down in the 27th minute. Boyd again was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt.
Scarborough were holding their own at the set scrum and when the home eight were penalized for illegal wheeling. Harrison’s kick set up a lineout five metres from the home line.
Pontefract were penalized following a catch-and-drive and No8 Matthew Else got the touch as the scrum was driven over in the 35th minute.
Ratcliffe missed the conversion but the deficit was cut to ten points at 15-10.
Scarborough continued to press and ended the half deep in home territory.
Pontefract declined a kickable penalty in the opening minute of the second half, electing to kick to the corner but their efforts were repulsed as they went for a bonus point-winning fourth try.
However skipper Tom Harrison’s men had the better of the possession in the opening minutes of the half and when Pontefract infringed at a scrum in their own 22, Scarborough chose to re-set and Cottle was sent over in the corner from short range in the 49th minute.
Ratcliffe failed to close the gap further with his conversion attempt.
Cottle was causing problems for the home defence but perhaps with the exception of full-back Graeme Jeffrey, he seemed to be the Seasiders only real threat and without support and runners he was often isolated.
Ratcliffe, who had left his kicking boots back on the coast, missed a penalty head on the posts in the 57th minute.
The fourth quarter of the game saw the visitors striving for a try to save the game and Cottle went close on a couple of occasions; however they were severely hampered by a non-functioning lineout and some uncharacteristically poor handing.
The comeback kings just couldn’t do it on this occasion and a plucky home side hung on for a well-deserved win.
Coach Lee Douglas’ charges will have to urgently sort out their lineout; it’s a vital source of first phase possession and they’re getting almost nothing from what should be a productive facet of the game.
There wasn’t a single goal kicked by either side on a perfect day for kicking and Scarborough could have won this game had they been successful with 50 per cent of their kicks.