There was a nasty sting in the tale as a game that had looked there for the winning fell apart in the closing few minutes.
The away scrum looked under severe pressure in the early stages, twice being shunted backwards by the home eight. Despite this it was the visitors who took the lead, Chris Paterson slotting over from underneath the posts after 12 minutes.
The pace was fast and furious with some big hits going in, Luke Gamble exemplifying the point when taking his man into touch on halfway. It was the tenacious winger who opened the home account, fly half Phil Davies executing a slick run around move from a scrum, Gamble going through two tackles on an exhilarating run from halfway to score wide on the right.
Brad Pryjmachuk came close to pulling off a try scoring interception as West Park looked to extend their lead. It wasn’t to be as crafty fly half Paterson fooled the home defence, waddling over from a 5-metre scrum for what was quite frankly a soft try, giving the visitors a somewhat flattering halftime lead.
It didn’t last long as hooker Tom Dalton – who else? – fielded the restart kick. The ruck formed on the 40 metre line, fullback Andy Cromack entering the line to release Alistair Booth into a metre of space. The winger, a genuine speed merchant, went past the first defender and through the second to notch a splendid 60 metre try, Ollie Trace nailing a good conversion to regain the lead.
Spurred into action, the visitors produced some of their best rugby to recapture the lead. Paterson’s canny kicking was constantly driving his team forward. A close range line out catch and drive was held but when the second effort came the Yarnbury flanker was able to pounce to grab the try in the corner.
Booth did well to tackle his man into touch in goal. Soon after the referee played a good advantage, a neat inside ball sending the support man over. From the restart kick Yarnbury skipper Ben Horner produced a devastating break, sending fellow winger Robert Rigby clean away to take the score to 12 v 25, all three conversion attempts being off target.
The riposte was swift, home skipper John Fletcher winning the ball on the floor. Trace entered the line at pace, choosing a great angle to slice through the defence. The cover got across but the centre’s casual one handed offload sent scrum half Will Morecombe racing between the posts for his 10th try of the season, Trace’s conversion taking West Park to within 6 points of the visitors.
Flanker Sam Hopton had been a threat all afternoon, being called back earlier when clean away only for a home penalty to be awarded on the 22. When he made another break deep into away territory he looked a certain scorer but was swamped by the cover. Big lock Josh Malkinson was up in support to secure the ball and when it came out there were three West Park men in space without a defender in sight. However, the pass was out of reach and the chance to take what could have been a match winning lead was lost.
The result was still in doubt but the visitors gave an object lesson in clinical finishing in the closing few minutes. First, Paterson slotted a penalty from inside the 22.
Still chasing the game with time just about up, the hosts forgot their defensive duties, conceding again from a close range scrum.
To add insult to injury, the restart kick failed to travel 10 metres, the defenders all froze and Rigby plucked the offering out of the air to stroll away for another converted try, both scored in added time, the final score being 19 v 42 (not 19 v 43 as per the RFU website).
There is no doubt that the visitors deserved their win, displaying more know how and steadiness but the hosts had traded blow for blow with one of the stronger performing teams in the league and know what they need to do to turn these results around.
On Saturday West Park play their final game of the season when they entertain Skipton and will be looking to finish on a high note to set up what looks like being an interesting and productive close season ahead.