W 22 - 17
By Dave Campbell
Scarborough continues to delight their supporters with their ability to adapt to life in RFU divisional rugby. They shocked joint league-leaders Morpeth with a gritty ‘muck and nettles’ performance at Silver Royd to win another close-fought nail-biter and move up to fourth in North One East.
An close-fought battle in the first quarter of the game surprisingly was scoreless although Scarborough had to rely on some excellent defence to keep the powerful Geordie side at bay. However when the visitors won an attacking lineout in the Scarborough half, they drove to the line; the Seasiders defended doggedly but when scrum-half Jack Elliott whipped the ball infield from a ruck, centre Fraser Boldy powered over between the uprights in the 26th minute; fly-half Ben Hornby added the extras for a 7-0 lead.
Although the try followed a period of Morpeth pressure, Scarborough were nonetheless shocked at the reverse and came storming back. Driving play down their right flank appeared to have stalled just outside the visitors’ 22 when a slick pass from fly-half Tom Ratcliffe released Jimmy Perrett; the Aussie fullback stepped on the gas to out-pace the visiting defenders and touchdown to the right of the uprights in the 29th minute. Ratcliffe converted to level the scores at 7-7.
Skipper Matty Jones’ men took control and whereas they had struggled with their ball retention early in the half they now dominated in midfield with centres Billy Parker and Matty Young excelling. The Scarborough pack are a mobile unit these days and hard running at the visiting defence by Sam Dawson, Alexis Core, skipper Jones and a dynamic back five began to create space.
A searing break by Ratcliffe from just inside the Morpeth half saw the big number ten cut a swath through the visiting midfield before executing an inch-perfect grubber kick on the run for Perrett to glide through, gather and score in the 32nd minute. Ratcliffe kicked the extra two for a 14-7 lead.
And the half ended with a further try on the stroke of halftime when having won ruck ball to the right of the uprights it was moved swiftly wide and flanker Aaron Wilson bustled through to touchdown. Ratcliffe missed the touchline conversion but Scarborough led 19-7 at the break.
Although Scarborough led by three tries to one the second half promised to be as abrasive and attritional as the first and so it turned out to be. The Seasiders won an early second half penalty and kicked to touch in the visitors’ 22 but lost possession from the resulting lineout.
Words must have been exchanged in the Morpeth half-time talk and the Northumbrians looked sharper at the breakdown than they had done in the second quarter and in the 50th minute fullback Jake McKay up in support, crossed for a try Ben Hornby failed to convert but it was game-on at 19-12.
An absorbing battle ensued with no quarter given or asked for by either side. The Seasiders defended with gusto and concentration with halfbacks Jordi Wakeham and Tom Ratcliffe excelling and some massive defensive work by the pack particularly lock Tom Hicks.
Ratcliffe kicked a penalty goal in the 59th minute to stretch the lead to 22-12 but ten points looked by no means to be a winning margin with a quarter of the game to go. And following toe-to-toe stuff late in the game the visitors eventually crossed the Scarborough whitewash at the death, this time winger Sam Hornby touching down. Brother Ben failed to convert and Scarborough were pulling up the drawbridge at 22-17.
Morpeth looked to keep possession from the re-start, as had the ball gone dead the game would have been over. However the visiting ball carrier was bundled into touch on half way and Scarborough had won a game which was compulsive viewing from start to finish.
North One East is a strong league from top to bottom and although their playing resources are thin, Scarborough’s young side play for each other with skill and commitment and their team spirit was palpable in a tough, uncompromising game.
Tries: perrett x 2, wilson
Conversions: ratcliffe x 2
Tries: boldy, mckay, s.hornby
Scarborough: perrett anderson young parker e.govier ratcliffe wakeham core dawson jones (capt) brown hicks d.govier wilson martin Substitutes: cutino leah fowler
Scarborough News "Man of the Match": tom hicks
Tom has been a revelation at second row in Scarborough’s dynamic forward pack and was once again outstanding.