With a quantum leap in confidence and performance from their dismal defeat at Bridlington, Scarborough turned in a spirited and belligerent first half performance to lead 6-0 at half-time in their clash with Yorkshire One league leaders Ilkley.
However, having survived an early second half onslaught, the visitors took the lead with penalties either side of a try mid-way through the half and went on to win their tenth consecutive game in a run which stretches back to mid-October last year.
Scarborough kicked off in damp, breezy conditions and looked lively in the opening exchanges with Tom Ratcliffe playing at fly-half pushing the visitors back at every opportunity with a fine display of line-kicking with a southerly breeze behind him.
Up front the Seasiders were holding their own at the set scrums but were struggling a bit at the lineouts. Ilkley were no slouches and only a crunching tackle by Czech centre Jan Tieber stopped Ilkley centre Alistair Monks in his tracks as he almost broke the line in the 10th minute.
The Scarborough back line also had some zip and Kiwi wing Harry Domett and his countryman Benji Cottle made line breaks which troubled the visiting defence. And when the west Yorkshiremen were caught off-side in the 15th minute, Ratcliffe had a chance to open his account; however the big number 10’s long distance kick just faded at the right upright.
A good catch and drive at a lineout midway in the home half saw Ilkley go close but a knock-on in the home 22 saw the chance go begging.
Scarborough grabbed the lead in the 20th minute when the visitors were caught offside a good 30 metres out wide on the Scarborough left; this time Ratcliffe made no mistake and edged his side 3-0 ahead with a superb kick.
Scarborough looked to boss the breakdown and to a great extent succeeded with flanker and skipper Chris Purdy in great form and returning No8 Matty Else the catalyst that transformed a side unrecognizable from last week.
The big farmer was everywhere; taking the ball on and putting in some crunching tackles.
And he wasn’t the only one putting in the big hits; prop Nino Cutino stopped lock Stuart Burns in his tracks to neutralize a potent attack in the Scarborough 22 in the 32nd minute.
A great move involving Cottle, Domett and wing Graeme Jeffrey looked like giving Lee Douglas’ men a decent half-time lead; however Jeffrey having been stopped illegally, the quick penalty was moved infield but a forward pass to Else saw the chance lost.
However the visitors were penalized at a subsequent scrum and Ratcliffe kicked his side 6-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time.
Scarborough started the second half on the back foot as Ilkley attacked from the kick-off but once again Ratcliffe’s line kicking, this time into the wind, took them deep into Ilkley territory.
A powerful driving maul took the Seasiders fully 20 metres deep into the visitors’ 22, where the maul was collapsed and Ratcliffe put the kick into touch on the five metre line. An excellent catch-and-drive took the ball to the Ilkley line where the Dalesmen yet again infringed and had a player yellow carded.
Scarborough failed to press home their advantage and were penalized themselves feet from the Ilkley line and the chance had gone.
That may have been the turning point in the game as the west Yorkshiremen reduced the arrears in the 52nd minute when Scarborough conceded a penalty in their own 22 and fly-half Josh Kimber obliged with the kick.
And on the hour when, not for the first in the game, Scarborough were penalized for ‘not straight’ at a line-out, Ilkey moved clean ball from the resulting scrum in field. Scarborough ran out of numbers and full-back Stuart Vincent, strolled in on the overlap.
Kimber added the extras for a 10-6 lead.
Heads never went down but Ilkley turned the screw and when Else was penalized for passing off the ground (an action you see go unpunished in the Premiership every week), Kimber kicked Ilkley 13-7 ahead in the 67th minute.
The game was then held up for fully 10 minutes as injured visiting flanker Ian McKenzie was treated then stretchered from the pitch.
Scarborough kept looking for a try which would have seen them share the spoils and breaks by Cottle, Ratcliffe, Jeffrey, Teiber and Domett gave the Silver Royd faithful hope; however the visitors’ defence was up to the task and kept their line intact.
In fact a late penalty from Kimber could have settled the issue for Ilkley but it was missed.
However they controlled the remainder of the game, shut out the Seasiders and deserved their narrow victory.
Chris Purdy’s men played with great heart but the game was still lost.
The young Scarborough front five acquitted themselves well but consistency is needed at the line-out and with a back division that has the potential to really fizz, they lacked penetration to get among the tries. Pick of the backs were Ratcliffe, Cottle, Tieber and Domett. Up front skipper Chris Purdy and Matty Else were outstanding.
SCARBOROUGH: Harrison Domett Cottle Teiber Jeffrey Ratcliffe Schutz Cutino Hopper Taylor Oxtoby Readman Purdy(capt) Hoggard Else SUBSTITUTES: Pickering Nightingale Lenton