Beverley travelled up the A19 on Saturday to play Middlesbrough in this Yorkshire 1 fixture. It was a filthy day with the rain sheeting down and visibility in parts virtually nil but, mercifully, conditions had improved slightly by kick-off time, at least insofar as the pouring rain had ceased. However, conditions underfoot were very soggy and we were unlikely to see much enterprising rugby.
Middlesbrough kicked off in the gloom and the Beavers, immediately making light of the conditions, mounted an attack down the left flank, moved the ball back inside and from a good forward drive Dale Hodgson picked up and threaded his way over for a fine try which Rob Smith converted to give them the lead after 4 minutes (0-7).
With both sides trying to move the ball about, play settled down in midfield and after 10 minutes Andy Baggett reduced the lead to 3-7 with a penalty. Despite the efforts of both teams the heavy conditions and slippery ball was making life difficult although Beverley were looking the better of the two sides with scrum half Rob Willhoite making some sniping runs from scrappy ball.
Almost on the stroke of half time, however, Middlesbrough left wing Rhys Kilbride took advantage of some sloppy defence and scored a good try out on the wing which Baggettt converted to give Boro the lead (10-7), somewhat against the run of play.
HT Middlesbrough 10 Beverley 7
After the break, Beverley, who had looked the more likely winners in the first half, inexplicably seemed to change their game plan and spent the first 10 minutes of the half kicking the ball away instead of running at the Middlesbrough defence and this inevitably lead to another penalty which Baggett duly kicked to make it 13 -7.
The Beavers then reverted to their first half game plan and mounted an assault on the Boro line. They spent 15 minutes or so in an arm wrestle in the corner 5 metres from the Boro line during which period the were awarded 4 consecutive penalties from which they elected to go to touch. Their supporters were mystified at this, since their scrum was usually going forward and, had they chosen a scrum they would surely have won a penalty try.
However, it was not to be and when Middlesbrough eventually broke out, a clearly frustrated Beverley side conceded three immediate penalties, one for back-chatting to the referee, which took Boro to the other end of the pitch and the third penalty presented Baggett with an easy three points (16-7). A try for right wing Andy Micklewright for Boro ended the scoring at 21 points to 7.
Beverley did not deserve to lose this game by 14 points. Only inexperience and poor game management lost them it. They gave as good as they got in the general play and if only they can take a lesson from the way in which an experienced player like the Middlesbrough No 10 Andrew Baggett controls the game when his team are on the back foot, the miserable event will have been worthwhile.