By Patrick Murray
Keighley 5 - Skipton 47
Skipton started their season in frightening style against an on-form Keighley side in the Yorkshire Shield. After only just losing by two points to Wharfedale last Friday, Keighley came into this game as hot favourites. However, this Skipton side will not go into many games this season without expecting a win, and Sunday was no different.
From the offset Skipton were stronger, faster and more willing to fight for every inch of the pitch. Strong early carries by Matt Speres, Jonathan Richards and Russel Ingham gave Daren Howson an armchair ride, and along with Andrew Nicholson, he was able to play an excellent kicking game even into the strong wind. Good possession early on allowed a well worked backs move to be finished off by Lucas Wootton, with Howson converting. More excellent backs moves resulted in more and more threatening attacks, and Skipton were unlucky to have a further two tries disallowed, for Liam Ray and Howson.
Skipton were now dominating every facet of the game, especially in the scrum where special mention must go to props Phil Crossman and Ryan Binner. From good attacking ball deep in the opponents 22, Matthew Speres once more showed his strength and footwork by bursting through for a trademark try that fans can look forward to seeing all season.
Skipton by this point were very much in the ascendency, and looking to attack where ever possible. As is often the case, this enthusiasm led to silly mistakes and ill discipline, which left Keighley a line out five metres from the Skipton line. Keighley, renowned for their strength in the forwards, returned to type and drove over for their only score of the day, which remained unconverted.
The second half saw Skipton well and truly throwing off the shackles and Keighley spent the last quarter chasing shadows. The back three of Ray, Wootton and Nicholson cut the oppostion to ribbons time and again. The veteran half backs of Kevin Bottomley and Howson controlled the game, showing every ounce of their experience. The forwards defended heroically to a man, and after the lapse in the first half, Keighley were never again able to use the driving maul. Excellent carries from Patrick Murray, Ingham and Speres, and a continual dominance in the scrum gave the backs plenty of ball which they used willingly. Further tries came from Ray, Sam Boatwright and a further 3 from Wootton.
This win is possibly the best win for Skipton in many seasons, and the team will hope to carry that form into their first league game at Leodensians this Saturday. Skipton still have much to work on, in particular discipline. But their solid defence, hard carrying and lightening fast wingers will rightly strike fear in their opposition and fans can look forward to an exciting season.