Much improved performance from Skipton
On a sunny afternoon that promised the start of spring, Skipton showed a much improved performance that promised even better things to come.
Nobody from either club could remember when visitors Bridlington had last come to play at Sandylands. However playing against an in-form Bridlington team in second place in the league, this was always going to be a hard game.
Bridlington kicked off, and play ebbed backwards and forwards for over 10 minutes until Skipton were awarded a penalty on the halfway line for Bridlington killing the ball off their feet. Thomsen attempted the kick for the posts, and only fell short by a few feet. Bridlington responded with a long kick from their 22, and a good chase ensured that play moved into the Skipton half. An offside decision against the Skipton backs after a scrum gave the Bridlington no10 Jamie Muru a penalty attempt, which he converted to open the scoring 0-3.
Play resumed, with both sides showing adventurous rugby attacking and counter attacking, with only some excellent defence stopping a score. Finally after half an hour Bridlingtonâ€™s backs attacked up the right wing, and then swung the ball down the line to the left when centre Robinson managed to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed, and the score 0-8.
Skipton responded strongly and immediately, with a clever interception from right-winger Dillon who then ran half the length of the pitch to score the first try for Skipton. Thomsen converted, and the score was 7-8.
A couple of minutes later Sam Boatwright had to retire injured after what appeared to be a deliberate stamp on his knee by a Bridlington player. Hill came on as replacement, so no diminution of scrum or lineout. However another offside decision against the Skipton backs gave Bridlington another penalty attempt, duly converted by Muru for a 7-11 score.
Yet again Skipton responded strongly and immediately. After the restart Bridlington had a scrum which was pushed back and turned by the Skipton pack. Skipton got the put in, won the scrum, and the ball was passed down the line through all the hands for Naylor to score in the corner. Thomsen was unable to convert, but Skipton were ahead at 12-11, and the whistle went for half-time.
Play resumed for the second half, and Bridlington regained the lead from another penalty given for offside. Speedy winger Ray then also had to retire injured, who will not have fond memories of the first game against Bridlington when he also had to retire injured after some over-vigorous rucking with the boot. Bridlington attacked and took the play into the Skipton half, and after several exciting phases of play managed to find a space for their centre Lawry to score under the posts. Converted by Muru, the score moved to 12-21.
Once again Skiptonâ€™s response was immediate, when Yorkshire U20 centre Munro chipped the ball over the Bridlington back line, winger Dillon chased and picked up the ball and some lovely handling from Dillon and fullback Naylor saw Munro over the try line for another score in the right hand corner. Thomsen was unable to convert, the score 17-21.
A couple of minutes later, enterprising centre Richards intercepted the ball and raced for the try line from inside the Skipton half. Unfortunately the Bridlington winger just managed to race back and tackle him a few yards out, and although he managed to pass out to replacement wing Wilson, the Bridlington defence got back and just managed to deny a score.
Play continued evenly for another 10 minutes until the ball was kicked over the Skipton defence into their 22 area. Winger Dillon raced back and dived on the ball just before the Bridlington wing fell on top off him. Referee Jonathan Hill blew for a penalty, with everyone expecting the decision to go to Skipton for not being allowed to get back onto their feet, but surprisingly the decision went to Bridlington who then took it quickly and scored a try. This was a crucial decision, which probably turned the game, the score now 17-26.
With a quarter of the game still to go, Skipton continued to attack, but the defence held firm. Two further penalties, converted by Muru, gave a final score of 17-32.
Skipton can take great heart from this much improved performance. The scrum was magnificent, more than holding their own against a Bridlington pack who once again seemed to be over vigorous in the contact area. The setpieces, scrum and lineout, all worked well. The halfbacks and back line worked together well, creating opportunities and defending well. Against the team placed second in the league, it was a good performance â€“ and they can take pride in being the only team to score three tries against Bridlington for nearly two seasons.
Naylor, J Dillon, Munro, Richards, Ray, Thomsen, Wibberley, Crossman, Sheehan, Riches, S Boatwright, M Boatwright, Hall, Oldfield, M Murray
Replacements:- Mellin, Hill, Wilson