RI back to Winning Ways
York RI beat Leeds Cornnthians, putting in a strong performance and moving to fourth in the table.
York RI RUFC entertained Leeds Corinthians at New Lane in a Yorkshire Four match that despite both sides seemingly out of the promotion hunt, the result of which could have an impact on the promotion push if sides above slip-up. When the sides met earlier in the season RI came away with the victory in a hard-fought encounter and expected a tight game in the return, despite a couple of key faces seemingly absent for the visiting side. Player-coach Dan Coates was able to name a side with minimal changes from last week, captain Martyn Ward moving to lock and replaced on the flank by available again Rob Cuthbertson. Coates also started at number 8 in place of absent Dave Skaith.
RI started superbly, the pack providing quick, clean ball to a backline that looked more than a match their opponents. Centre Tim Lewis made an early break following a solid RI scrum, using dancing feet to make good ground, but RI were penalised at the breakdown, a theme for the match, and despite the long range kick being missed it gave an the impression the Leeds kicker was capable of punishing any indiscretions from the tee. Minutes later a penalty on the ten metre line for not-releasing confirmed this suspicion and gave Corinthians the first score, but also served to kick RI into gear.
Going through the phases and bringing in a bit more structure RI looked comfortable, Coates and Cuthbertson to the fore carrying strongly. The home side began building the phases and tying in the visitors defence, which quickly yielded the first score. When the ball came wide, it passed through several pairs of hands before wing Danny Spencer touched down in the corner. Five minutes later in a similar play, Coates picked from the base of the scrum and carried up field, in the second phase the ball went through the hands for centre Andy Brentnall to score. Baptiste Briu landed the conversion to give the home side a 12 – 3 lead.
RI continued to dominate the first half, winning the battle around the fringes and looking a different class as soon as the ball moved wide with forwards and backs linking beautifully. It was wing Tom Greaves who scored next, a well-executed scrum move providing the platform. Coates picked from the base feeding scrum-half Brendan Aherne who in turn found Greaves. Given his history it was a surprising choice, but Greaves chipped over not to the defence, outpaced the full back to regather and scored a brilliant solo try, Briu converting.
Pressure from the pack resulted in Cuthbertson winning a turnover, breaking twenty yards and giving his first pass of the season to Tim Lewis. Lewis fed Brentnall who finished the play by jinking past several defenders for another converted score and securing the try scoring bonus point. In truth, RI running away with the first half in such a manner and playing arguably their best rugby of the season wasn’t entirely anticipated and Corinthians were expected to be a tougher unit to crack, as displayed in the second half. That said, the final act of the first period was another try with a genesis at the set piece; an eight-nine linkup for a delightful kick from the box by Aherne gathered by Greaves to touch down. The conversion was missed but RI turned around in an insurmountable 31 – 3 lead.
The second half was completely a completely different and somewhat turgid affair. Leeds realised their limitations out wide and concentrated on an effective pick and go game around the breakdown and using big ball carries one pass wide. Ultimately this pattern pinned RI in their own half for twenty minutes, but the defence for the most part held firm, a certain try denied by Lewis holding up the ball carrier. During this period RI’s frustration was manifested in ill-discipline. Yohan Barthelemy sin-binned for persistent offences, and shortly after he re-joined the game replacement Barry Steel was given ten minutes rest for cumulative team infringements. Unfortunately for the home-side, although limited, Corinthians’ game plan was effective and they managed a score off the back of a maul with ten minutes remaining.
Tempers were also beginning to fray, with RI responding to the physical approach of the visitors by hard carries and tackles of their own, and several incidents of handbags broke out. Fortunately RI kept their heads and regained composure to exit their half and earn a penalty in the final minute, kicking to the corner and looking for the punctuating score. Ultimately it wasn’t to be with the ball knocked on, and Corinthians prevented their line being breached in the second period. However, RI ran out comfortable winners to move up to fourth in the table. Despite his indiscretions, Barthelemy was named man of the match for a fine performance, though all the team performed admirably.
Elsewhere in Yorkshire Four, congratulations to Wetherby RUFC for sealing a well-deserved title. Best of luck in Yorkshire Three next season.
There are two weeks off from league action but the second XV host Knottingley next week so please continue to show your support.
Match photos; http://www.mainlyfax.co.uk/p885001390