Sat 29
1st XV
Pontefract RUFC 24 – 3 Selby RUFC

Pontefract RUFC 24 – 3 Selby RUFC

By Karen Ratcliffe
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Report by Ray Adamson

Having been on the receiving end of a 60 points plus drubbing at the end of last season, Selby arrived at Pontefract determined to try to put the record straight. However, in tricky conditions for running and handling and, having lost both starting props before half time, Selby eventually succumbed to the power of the home forwards and the astute kicking game of the home fly half, Liam Kay.

Things looked difficult for Selby from the very first scrum, which saw Pontefract take the ball against the head and force a penalty which gave them the first chance to attack in the Selby 22. A poor throw at the resulting line out allowed Selby to reclaim possession and the first of a series of high tackles by a Pontefract forward gave Selby an easy clearance. Further indiscretions at the tackle by home defenders saw Selby advance into the Pontefract half and a third high tackle in just a short space of time presented Joe Ramsay with the first chance to kick at goal. A well struck penalty from 30 metres gave Selby an encouraging start and a 3 point lead after 12 minutes.

Within a couple of minutes of the re-start Pontefract were reduced to 14 when the scrum half infringed at a scrum on half way and was shown a yellow card by the referee who was clearly losing patience with the home side. Although Selby were able to kick down to the 22, a knock on at the line out gave possession back to Pontefract who were able to clear downfield.

With 20 minutes gone, Selby were struck the first of a couple of significant blows when prop forward Tom Hatfield-Green suffered a rib injury at a scrum in the 22 and needed to be replaced by Andy Tunningley. Somehow, Selby managed to resist the Pontefract forwards, winning the ball against the put in and Jamie Ibbetson broke quickly from the base, driving all the way to the halfway line before his offload was knocked on by the supporting player and the home side were once again gifted possession.

On their next visit to the Selby 22 the home forwards were able to force a goal line drop out as Selby’s frantic defence managed to keep the line intact. However, the resulting drop out was kicked straight into touch which gave the home side the chance to attack a scrum from the 5 metre line. The surge from the Pontefract pack was too strong for the much lighter Selby forwards and the home number 8 dotted down for his side’s opening score after 27 minutes. Fly half Liam Kay added the conversion from the right hand side of the posts to open up a 7-3 lead in favour of the home side.

From a Selby perspective, things took a considerable turn for the worse immediately following the kick off when Adam Leetham took a knock to the head and needed to undergo an HIA which he subsequently failed and so took no further part in the match. Having no further front row replacements, the game then had to go to uncontested scrums and the atmosphere around the game became somewhat subdued.

After 34 minutes Pontefract were again reduced to 14 but this time it was second row forward Brodie Matthews who was shown a red card for “contact with the head” as Selby scrum half Danny Wilkinson appeared to lose his footing going into the tackle. The remaining few minutes saw play mostly between the 22s as errors from both sides

contributed to a scrappy end to the first half, with Pontefract holding a slender 4 point advantage.

The second period was largely dominated by the home fly half Liam Kay who dictated play by repeatedly driving Selby back into their 22 with an excellent kicking game and challenging them to find a way out. The Pontefract defence combined with the difficult conditions and some inaccuracy in passing made this difficult for the visitors and after 50 minutes Selby were forced into conceding a line out just inside their 22. A well executed line out drill saw the Pontefract back row drive at the heart of the Selby defence and quick ball at the breakdown helped create the space wide out on the left for Craig Fawcett to run in for the try. An excellent conversion from Kay opened the gap to 14-3.

A further penalty for offside in front of the posts presented Kay with an easy kick at goal from 25 metres with 55 minutes gone and opened up a 14 point advantage at 17-3, though the same player was unable to convert his next chance when Selby were penalised for handling in the ruck just 5 minutes later.

Although the home side’s tactics were not to everybody’s taste, they proved extremely effective and when the Selby backs were unable to deal with another kick deep into their 22, Pontefract forwards were up quick, turned over possession and bundled over for an easy score, the conversion stretching the lead with 15 minutes to play to 24-3.

On a rare visit to the Pontefract 22, Selby set up a good attacking position only for the chance to be wasted when replacement forward Liam Hogan was penalised and shown a yellow card after 74 minutes for arguing with the referee about a knock on decision that went in favour of the home side.

It was surprising that Pontefract seemed to lack real ambition to go for the bonus point try, however it was only a last ditch try saving tackle by Danny Wilkinson that prevented them from achieving it. From an unpromising position in their 22 Selby suddenly turned defence into attack when Joe Ramsay chased a clearance kick and caught one of the Pontefract backs in possession outside the Selby 22. Quick turnover ball and slick handling soon took play into the Pontefract 22 and forced the home defence to concede a penalty just 10 metres fro their line. A quick tap and several phases later Selby managed to work the overlap on their left wing only to see the final pass go harmlessly into touch. Undeterred, the forwards forced an error at the line out and again went for the tap penalty, repeatedly driving at the Pontefract line until with the final play of the match, the referee decided that Selby had been held up over the line and brought proceedings to a close.

Having sunk to 11th place in Yorkshire 1 after this defeat, Selby must quickly re-organise with an important game against Scarborough at Sandhill Lane next Saturday.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 29, Oct 2022




Regional 2 North East

League position