Keighley RUFC 14 - 20 Selby RUFC
Selby leave it late to record their first away win of the season.
Keighley RUFC 14 – 20 Selby RUFC
Report by Ian Marlow
Selby moved further away from the Yorkshire One relegation positions by toughing it out and leaving it late for the second week running to snatch the victory and points in a tight, bruising match away at Keighley. And while there is an old rugby maxim that says ‘if you win the breakdown, you win the match’, this match was proof indeed to pay no attention to perceived wisdom as Selby broke the world record for lost possessions but still came away with a well-merited win.
Playing into a stiffish breeze Selby didn’t wait long to demonstrate their legendary generosity by kicking out on the full from the kick off and then conceding a soft penalty to put Keighley in prime position on their line – but prop Millar McCoy turned the ball over excellently to save the day. Play then concentrated in midfield as both teams showed their mettles with some mean tackling before second row Stephen Clark ran a beautiful line to hit the ball at pace and scorch through the defensive line for a seemingly certain and fabulous try. Unfortunately, a last ditch tap tackle upended the ginger galloper and the chance was lost, and then to compound Selby’s disappointment Keighley put together a cracking back move of their own to send their centre in for a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes.
With Keighley now dominating the breakdowns the chance for Selby to establish any decent possession and field position was scant and when a clash of heads removed both Captain Charlie Cicero and fly half Harry Cruise from any further involvement in the game, the Swans and their chances of victory were starting to look a bit bedraggled. Then out of nowhere Selby scored a cracking try as a quick tap penalty from acting captain and scrum half Danny Wilkinson from an innocuous position deep in his own half was moved deftly on by young centre Olly Turvey to winger Ash Dallimore, who simply blistered up the touchline leaving the Keighley cover for dead to streak in from 60 metres to tie the scores after 30 minutes.
Selby’s chronic inability to hang onto the ball at the breakdown then returned to cost them as Keighley took advantage of two consecutive turned over possessions to score again for a 14-7 lead and then, after Liam Hogan senselessly binned himself, the Swans were left desperately hanging on until half time as Keighley pushed for another score to take the match away.
With hooker James Dentith having to leave the field at half time with another head injury and with Dallimore and centre Alex Webster also now struggling with leg injuries Selby, with no remaining substitutes, were starting to resemble the walking dead - but it is a measure of their much improved resilience that this didn’t affect their defensive capabilities as they denied Keighley any second half scoring opportunities. The problem for Selby was that their troubles at the breakdown continued unabated, so despite the pack dominating the scrummage the Swans never had the ball long enough to do any damage themselves.
However, with time fast running out Selby suddenly started to get firmly on top as the pack, with Clark and New Zealander new boy Sam Phipps leading the way, started to get a real grind on their opposition - and it was great to see young hooker Charlie Thompson, a late replacement call up, stepping up to the mark when needed and getting stuck in to play a full part in Selby’s recovery. After a break from Webster set up field position, the pack did the rest as they drove over for young but portly Sam Broughton to touch down and then after Selby’s scrum forced another penalty, full back George Stoker stroked it over to take the lead 14-15. And there was still time for Wilkinson and winger Matt Leetham to break blind to take play deep into Keighley territory where the pack, once again, asserted their dominance by forcing their way over for Broughton, or maybe Wilkinson, or maybe neither, to touch down for the 14-20 win.
Selby now take on Middlesbrough in a league and Yorkshire Shield double header at home on Saturday – and, while Selby’s commitment and durability are not in doubt, coaches and players will be focussing on improving their ball control if they are to have any chance against the promotion favourites.