Having made a great start to the season winning their first four games, Scarborough slid to their fifth defeat in six matches, losing 15-10 thanks to a lacklustre performance against visitors Old Brodleians at a windswept and chilly Silver Royd.
Playing with a strong northerly wind behind them Scarborough kicked off and the strength of wind could be guessed at as ‘Brods’ flyhalf Danny Wood’s relieving kick was blown behind him and the Seasiders had the first lineout of the game.
However, the home side were penalized for handling at a subsequent ruck and from the resulting lineout the visitors drove up-field and some flimsy defence saw a pass popped up to flanker Andy Finn who drove over for 5-0 in the seventh minute. Wood failed to convert.
Scarborough took the game to the visitors and a great break by fullback Graeme Jeffery took him deep into the Brods’ 22 only for the final pass to be spilled.
Prop Luke Raines was proving a handful in the loose and he was unlucky to have been held up on a couple of occasions by some brave last-ditch defence.
However for all their pressure it was Scarborough who conceded next when, from a lineout in their own 22 following a conceded penalty, a well executed catch-and-drive saw Brods No8 Luke Grimshaw driven over in the 22nd minute. Wood added the extras for 12-0.
Again Scarborough came back with verve however it was apparent that a bout of ‘white line fever’ had set in when first flyhalf Tom Harrison looked for another pass with the line begging beneath the uprights, then Raines was again held up over the line and finally an overlap wide on the right was wasted by a mistimed pass and although Zbynec Schutz powered over, the pass had been forward.
Composure appeared to have gone and although it had been a poor half for the home side they could well have been ahead rather than trailing 12-0 at the break.
Playing into the wind Scarborough started the second half the brighter of the two teams and put together some good passages of play however their ball retention let them down and they struggled at the lineout.
And when they infringed just inside their own 10 metre line Danny Wood nudged the visitors further ahead with the penalty in the 45th minute.
Scarborough struggled in the conditions and although they were looking to play an expansive game their ambition was often let down by their execution with dropped balls and passes going behind the intended receiver.
However the intent was there and a good move out of defence by Jeffrey and prop Nino Cutino took skipper Phil Watson’s men 50 metres upfield before a knock-on 10 metres out halted their progress.
However the Seasiders got their reward in the 57th minute when a searing break by centre Tom Ratcliffe saw him release winger Corey Dennis who powered over to open the Scarborough account in the 57th minute. Ratcliffe converted to reduce the arrears to eight points at 15-7.
The fourth quarter was a case of Scarborough chasing a winner and a brave Old Brods defence with all hands to the pumps battling to keep them at bay; several probing Ratcliffe runs should have produced more while Dennis, Schutz (now at scrum-half) and Cutino looked dangerous.
However as the game went into its final changes the home effort grew more and more frenetic and lacked composure. When ball was turned over Brod’s number 10 Wood kicked deep.
And the visitors had a chance to sew the game up in the later stages with a good move in the Scarborough 22; however the ball was lost and Jeffrey cleared his lines.
A great run by Dennis in the closing seconds of the game could have rescued Scarborough, however the ball was lost at the death and Brods survived to record their third win of the season with a brave defensive display.
No one could fault coach Jason Lowde’s charges for their ambition or effort in this game but it was their retention that too often let them down. The set pieces are still a problem and a tendency to sometimes panic with the line in sight still prevails.
However they have scored 35 tries so far this season so it’s obviously only an intermittent problem.
They did have the chance to get themselves on the scoreboard early in the game but spurned a couple of kickable penalties; perhaps better decision making could have won them the game; who knows
Alarmingly they have won only one game since mid September and they must rediscover the aggression in defence and at the breakdown that characterised their earlier performances this season if they are to at least maintain a mid-table berth.