Selby RUFC 17 - 29 Scarborough RUFC
Selby run out of steam after a much improved first half effort but come away pointless.
Selby RUFC 17 v 29 Scarborough RUFC (06/01/2018)
Report by Ian Marlow
Selby matched up against Scarborough for the third time this season in the first of the league’s return fixtures and while it ended as all three have done with a defeat the manner of Selby’s display, particularly in the first half, earned the Swans the respect of the opposition and watching supporters if not any points. With a series of games now upcoming against fellow league strugglers it also raises morale within the club that another last ditch escape from relegation may be possible.
If truth be told it was always going to be a tough to get anything from this game with the Seasiders riding high in the league while Selby languished but playing into a strong biting Northerly wind Selby put their shoulders against the wheel from the outset with a gutsy defensive effort. Previous games had seen Selby’s scrum more than holding their own but not this time as Scarborough were clearly in the ascendency forcing a couple of scrum penalties early on. Indicating their confidence Scarborough eschewed the easy three points on offer for something more, even resetting the scrum to free up space for their speedy and skilful back line, but Selby held firm with some committed defence to deny the score. However, against the elements and Scarborough’s equally robust defence Selby struggled to clear their lines and eventually the pressure told as a classy offload in the tackle managed to breach the Selby line for a converted try.
Selby then started to play some of their best rugby this season as firstly Alex Webster made a fine break up-field to earn a penalty that was then kicked to the corner for the Selby pack, plus a couple of backs, to rumble to within inches of the score. However, as often as has not happened this season, Selby managed to retain possession through a number of phases to keep the pressure on before eventually Scott Hunt, to the surprise of many watching, showed a previously unseen physicality to batter his way over for a fine team try to level the scores.
Play returned mostly to Selby’s half with Scarborough continuing to cause scrum problems and again backing themselves to score tries rather than kick penalties but Selby showed great resolve in tackling anything that moved and the line held before a snaffled turnover allowed the Selby back line to expertly send Harry Cruise up his left wing. The young winger did all the hard work with a fine break but the chance looked to be lost as he then failed to see his supporting players before being downed yards from the Scarborough line. However, a penalty and yellow card was awarded allowing Selby a second go and after another forward drive from the resulting line out Liam Hogan, having one of his best games for some time, found a gap and was simply too strong to stop to give Selby an unlikely lead with only minutes remaining in the half.
When Selby returned immediately to the attack pressurising close to the Scarborough line the Selby faithful were hopeful of yet another score but, alas, it did not come as expected as hope turned quickly to despair as the powerful Scarborough fullback, benefitting from a lapse in Selby’s previously sturdy defence, was allowed to run through a host of Selby tacklers before kicking long for the lightning quick winger to outpace the Selby cover for a 95 yard try in the corner.
Unfortunately for Selby the half time break also brought an improvement in the weather and while the sun appearing was nice it was accompanied by a noticeable decrease in the favourable breeze, which wasn’t quite so welcome. However, with the weather gods still in Selby’s favour the odds were still on their side and when Selby continued to apply early pressure resulting in a Scott Hunt penalty to increase the lead to 17-12 Selby were looking the most likely. However, that was as good as it got for the afternoon for Selby as they then looked to simply run out of steam.
Suddenly, despite Hunt pinning Scarborough back in their half with some astute tactical kicking, their classy backs got a little bit more room to operate in and they started to punish Selby’s ever tiring defence with some fine breaks. With Selby now losing control of possession and territory Scarborough took it for themselves, and the lead, with a fine try in the corner followed by another to stretch away. A final penalty rubbed salt into Selby’s wounds although they did have a last minute chance to salvage a losing bonus point, going close with another forward drive before Scarborough were penalised for illegally bringing it down. Alas, the resultant line out was lost and the game over giving Selby nothing but a sense of what might have been from a much improved team performance.
Selby now have highly crucial matches against fellow league strugglers coming up, starting at home next Saturday against Bradford Salem, and it is to be hoped that Selby’s first half performance in this match can be a catalyst for a revival in performances for the second half of the season.