Skipton rocked by Old Mods defeat
Skipton were again hit by late withdrawals as they prepared to tackle unbeaten Old Modernians.
Potent winger Lee Shaw was ruled out due to illness, and in-form scrum-half Alex Baldwin failed a last-minute fitness test.
Shaun Barraclough moved from
Despite all the disruption Skipton played with determination and immediate pressure resulted in a penalty kicked by Jeremy Hargreaves.
Skipper Darren Howson triggered wave upon wave of attacks that Mods found increasingly difficult to contain. Their defence was creaking and they were committing infringements. The referee awarded a penalty which was dispatched toward the corner flag for a line-out. The subsequent catch and drive drew in the home defence and enabled Skipton to spread the ball quickly wide for full-back Har- greaves to crash over for a try which he also converted.
Soon after the re-start an altercation with the rattled Old Mods forwards led to Chris Wright being yellow carded for throwing a punch. With a man advantage Mods began to apply pressure. Prop Darrel Swales replaced Ben Hall for the sin-bin period and, although Skipton held out for the full ten minutes, a penalty awarded as Wright was about to return saw Old Mods gain three points.
A further Hargreaves penalty saw Skipton take a well-deserved 13-3 lead. The increasing penalty count against Skipton for apparent ruck and maul infringements began to upset both players and coaches. It was obvious there was a fundamental difference of opinion in the interpretation of the laws of the game and Hall became the unlucky recipient of a “team” yellow card.
Old Modernians, obviously well used to the vagaries of their pitch, started the second-half in buoyant mood playing down the slope.
They expected Skipton to capitulate but the visitors had other ideas.
They were able to exert pressure of their own on a continually creaking home defence, but were repeatedly halted by the intervention of the referee. From one penalty Mods kicked long for a line-out in Skipton’s 22 and took advantage to score from a driving maul.
Undaunted, the Reds stuck to their game plan and were rewarded when Hargreaves kicked his third penalty.
Twenty-five minutes into the half and with the penalty count spiralling for both sides, Mods were deemed the guilty party close to their own line.
A quickly-taken tap-penalty by openside flanker David Wellock saw him ground the ball over the line. Old Mods’ heads went down as they stood in disarray in their dead-ball area, believing the game was now all but lost.
To the total disbelief of players, coaches and spectators of both sides the referee deemed the ball was held up over the line.
Wellock, a referee himself, was incensed by the decision, as were his team-mates, it was a bitter pill to swallow. But as has always been the case in rugby union the decision was accepted.
The ruling had a major bearing on the game and prompted a complete turn-around in fortunes. Potential glory for Skipton turned to the agony of defeat as a rejuvenated home side saw their chance. They scored a try wide out to level the scores and the difficult conversion was kicked to out the home side ahead.
The Reds had little time to counter and as a result they became a little desperate.
The final act of the game saw Mods extend their lead with a well-struck penalty.
The words of consolation from the victorious home side and a bonus point were scant reward for Skipton’s efforts.