Victory in the Sunshine for York RI RUFC
RI come away with the victory against a powerful Mosborough side
In glorious, if a little windy, conditions the penultimate game of the season saw York RI RUFC travel to Mosborough RUFC. Despite missing a few regulars, the depth in RI’s squad shone through, scoring five tries against the powerful home side. Barry Steel returned to loose-head prop, joining Captain Frazer Land and tight-head Andy McCarthy. Hugh Finnegan came in to partner Martyn Ward in the second row, with Ben Hartop moving to the blindside flank in a back row completed by Rob Cuthbertson and returning number eight Ewan Metcalfe. The backline was also subject to major reshuffling; Baptiste Briu moved to scrum-half, pushing Brendan Aherne one place out to fly-half. Regular flanker Francky Rossi brought more Gallic flair to the backline at twelve, partnering Andy Brentnall in the midfield. Tom Greaves moved to fullback, Danny Spencer and Jack Whittaker filling the wing positions.
Kicking off into the wind and playing up hill, RI were under immediate pressure from the huge Mosborough pack. Undeterred, the visitors maintained their shape and tackled like demons, repelling attacks and forcing errors. In the previous fixture, the scrummage was a major weapon for Mosborough, but from the outset RI gained parity and when the ball moved wide it was clear where their advantage lay. Good hands through the backs enabled both Spencer and Whittaker to make ground, and good support play almost yielded a try, the referee ruling the grounding short of the line. However, RI didn’t waste the field position and from a driven lineout, Martyn Ward broke and powered over for the opening try, converted by Briu.
From the restart the home side again attacked strongly, using big ball carriers to punch holes and gaining the upper hand at the breakdown. A speedy carry from the enormous second row saw him brush aside several would-be tacklers to score an unconverted try out wide. RI were quick in their riposte and excellent play in the backs put Rossi through for the first of his brace with Briu adding the extras for a 14 – 5 lead. The physicality of the match was taking its toll on RI, McCarthy departing with a dislocated shoulder and Finnegan with broken ribs, replaced by Matt Blackett and Dan Coates, respectively. For a time the teams were locked in a stalemate, but it was the home team with the next, somewhat controversial, score. Brentnall was offside at the breakdown, and the penalty kick to touch looked to have gone dead in goal, but was ruled to be the right side of the flag by the linesman. Mosborough gathered the lineout and set up and excellent maul to power over and reduce the deficit to 14 – 10 at the interval.
Starting the second half, Rossi and Coates swapped positions, the latter moving into the centres. Shortly into the second half this paid dividends with slick work from the forwards providing good ball to the backs. Brentnall found space in the middle and offloaded in the tackle to Coates who powered through to score under the posts and extend RI’s lead. Mosborough were gaining a significant advantage at the breakdown and used this superiority to fashion their third score and close the gap. From quick, clean ball they found space and used forward power to touch down and reduce the deficit, a conversion taking the score to 21 – 17.
At this point Mosborough had the upper hand, and were it not for some excellent spot tackles and scramble defence, they could easily have taken the lead. RI were not to be outdone however. Defensive pressure caused the home side to spill the ball, Metcalfe gathered it quickly and from the resulting ruck, Rossi broke clear to canter thirty metres for his second, Briu converting. In the final twenty minutes, despite being down to 14 men, firstly for a yellow card and then due to injury, RI reasserted their dominance out wide and retained the ball well. Ultimately, sustained pressure fashioned a chance for Jack Whittaker to outstrip the defence and score his maiden 1st XV try, capping a strong game. The final score was 33 – 17, the trying scoring bonus point secured.
Whereas in the first fixture, damp conditions at New Lane favoured the strong Mosborough pack, sunshine and firm ground enabled RI to use their slick hands, keeping the ball away from the forwards and making the most of their advantage in the backs. Rob Cuthbertson was man of the match with a typically dogged display, and Whittaker the pick of the backs with some elusive running.
Next week, Wensleydale RUFC visit New Lane in the final Yorkshire Four game of the season, with the 2nd XV hosting Billingham RUFC. Please come down and support the teams and enjoy the festivities afterwards….