RI End on a High
RI and Wensleydale play out an entertaining game at New Lane in season finale
York RI RUFC capped a solid season with a win over Wensleydale RUFC, in a remarkable and closely contested game. A flaw for RI all season has been maintaining performance and concentration for a full game, a trait apparent again on Saturday. This week saw an outstanding first half nearly undone by allowing a strong Wensleydale side to get their own game going to take the lead into the final 15 minutes.
Superb weather was conducive to flowing rugby and both teams looked to embrace that philosophy from the outset. Wenselydale’s method of opening up space was to use their big ball carriers to punch holes and recycle, whereas RI increasingly looked to offload in contact to keep the ball alive. Although guilty on occasion of trying to force play, it was the home side that opened the scoring with a Stu Watson penalty. The visitors riposte was swift, landing a three pointer of their own, before the tries began flowing.
Number 8 Ewan Metcalfe broke the defence just inside his own half before outpacing the cover to score an excellent solo try. Despite some errors, RI’s persistence in moving the ball was generating space and wing Jack Whittaker had a probing run outside, nearly making the line. A well-worked line-out move saw second row Yohan Barthelemy in space, breaking three half-hearted tackles and scoring his first of the game, Watson converting. A second try from a lineout came with Darren Lonsdale having an armchair ride to the line following an excellent maul, again converted by Watson.
Wensleydale rallied for a score of their own, strong carrying putting RI on the back foot before going through the hands to score a well worked try under the posts. The home side punctuated the half with a try from scrum half Brendan Aherne. A break down the right wing was hauled down by the Wenselydale defence, the ball was moved in field in the next phase before Aherne saw the open space back on the right and sprinted clear to score. At the interval RI led 25 – 10.
After the break the visitors upped their game as RI dipped and scored three unanswered tries. The intensity at the breakdown ensured ‘Dale had a steady supply of clean ball that was utilised well by the forward ball carriers. Their pressure resulted in RI mistakes and from a midfield scrum an eight-nine-wing move manipulated the defence well for the winger to touchdown. RI conceded a quick succession of penalties to cede field position and the visitors displayed their own mauling prowess to score in the corner. The final try was the result of slack tackling near the line and could have cost the home side as Wensleydale led 27 – 25 going into the final quarter.
However, it was the awakening RI needed as they steadily turned the tide. Infringing once too often, the visitors were reduced to 14 and Watson nailed his second penalty to regain the lead. Constant pressure from RI established field position and seeing little on outside him, full back Tom Greaves slotted a long range drop goal to take the score to 31 – 27. With the final play, RI scored the final try. Good work amongst the forwards saw open-side Franck Rossi break down the left. The ball was recycled well before Barthelemy capped a man of the match display with his second. The final score read 36 – 27.
York RI have enjoyed a good season on and off the pitch and look forward to building next year. Coach Dan Coates has confirmed he’ll remain at the helm for another year and new faces have added impetus to an already strong squad. Thanks to sponsor Andrew Morse who provided after-match liquid refreshments for all the teams and the man of the match prizes. Thanks to all other sponsors for their support throughout the season, it’s much appreciated.
Many thanks to physio Kim Lawson who is leaving this season, all the squad are very grateful for you hard work in keeping them healthy throughout the year.
Finally thanks to all the support we’ve had both home and away this year. Hopefully we’ll see you again next year as we look to build and press for promotion!