Selby RUFC 22 - 18 Old Rishworthians RUFC
By Stephen Ward
Selby one win away from guaranteed Yorkshire 1 survival after nail biting victory at Sandhill Lane over Old Rishworthians.
Selby RUFC 22 v 18 Old Rishworthians RUFC
Report by Ian Marlow
Selby took another step towards league safety with a nail biting win against first time visitors Old Rishworthians at Sandhill Lane on Saturday - and spirits were further raised as, with their closest league rivals all losing, it leaves the Swans just one win away from guaranteed Yorkshire One survival.
Selby were expecting a grim forward battle but the unavailability of both Rishworthians’ first choice props meant the expected scrum pressure was considerably less grizzly, and Selby actually dominated throughout, but Rishworthians still presented a stern test elsewhere and the match was finely balanced and could have gone either way until the final whistle eventually allowed the Selby support to breathe again.
Rishworthians started strongly and set the pattern for the match from the outset as their young team gained possession and then kept it through numerous phases, testing Selby’s defences wide out, until an eventual indiscretion gave them the chance to take the lead from a penalty in front of the posts. Selby replied with possession of their own but with their link up play misfiring, they were reduced to a succession of individual charges that Rishworthians dealt with without too much trouble, before fly half Will Edwards missed with a penalty attempt after 15 minutes.
Selby’s dominance at scrum time came to their rescue though as, following a near miss from Rob Taylor; the forwards forced their way over again with big Martin Protheroe emerging with ball in hand. The missed conversion kept it close before Selby contrived to go behind as they failed to deal with an innocuous kick upfield to allow Rishworthians to pick their pockets and scoot away upfield for a converted try. Back came Selby to calm nerves again though as on the stroke of half time they kept their patience to recycle through the phases for Taylor to make amends for his earlier butterfingeryness with a try in the corner to tie the scores.
There then came the first of two pivotal kicking moments in the match as centre Alex Webster’s conversion attempt, although resembling the flight of a drunken duck launched from a boot up its backside, crept over from wide out - and with no deductions for style, the extra two points not only regained the half time lead but would prove crucial in the later context of the match.
An early second half injury to big ball carrier Taylor reduced Selby’s effectiveness and with the Swans struggling to piece together coherent phases of play the match became mired in midfield. Rishworthians, with their open-side flanker outstanding, always looked lively and only some resolute and sometimes last ditch defending, with Webster and fellow centre Andy Kehoe to the fore, keeping them at bay. It was therefore a massive relief, after Selby had managed to get within range of the Rishworthians line, when hooker Mark Tanner finished off some good team play to cross for a converted try and a two score lead after fifty minutes.
A good penalty from Rishworthians raised tensions again as it brought it back to one score before Webster restored some calm with a penalty in reply for a 22-13 score-line. Selby then set alarm bells clanging pitch-side as they repeatedly failed to clear the return – and Rishworthians took full advantage with a smart try under the sticks to bring them right back into the match. However, crucially, they somehow missed the simple conversion kick meaning the gap was four points instead of two – so, when they were later awarded a very kickable penalty, which would otherwise have won the match, they were forced to kick to touch instead as only a try would retake the lead.
With the clock ticking down in slow motion and the large crowd having already had enough excitement for the day thank you, Selby managed to hang on as Rishworthians threw everything at them - and it was entirely fitting and indicative that the final and crucial turnover as Rishworthians pressed yet again should be pulled off by a combination of Webster and Kehoe, who had both given their all to the Selby defensive cause.
Selby’s penultimate match is away at Hullensians on Saturday where a win will almost certainly ensure league survival - but nothing should be taken for granted and Selby will wish to do the job themselves rather than having to rely on results from elsewhere.