With several of their most influential players absent this looked like being a tough afternoon for Beverley. Not a bit of it. This was an altogether absorbing match and a fine performance by the young Beverley side. In recognition of the Club’s annual Ladies Day they turned out in pink shirts and flowery shorts but mercifully did not play accordingly. Far from being a drab end of season affair this was a cracking game with some top quality play by both sides. The cold sunny conditions were ideal for running rugby and there was plenty of that. Beverley’s younger players in particular made the most of their opportunity and showed bags of pace and plenty of endeavour, hopeful perhaps of impressing the young ladies who were still standing at three o’clock.
The Beverley forwards were on top right from the start and for twenty minutes Middlesborough could hardly get their hands on the ball. They ran impressively when they did but it was nearly all Beverley during the first quarter. But for all their possession Beverley could not turn possession into points and all they had to show for it after half an hour was a nicely worked converted try by Rhys Innes from a short lineout, to which Middlesborough had responded with a converted try by Conner Foley from about their only foray into Beverley territory.
In the space of two minutes just before halftime two tries, one converted, put Beverley twelve points clear and at a stroke more or less settled the outcome. Firstly Jack Foster went over in the corner and then direct from the re-start Charlie Rawlins rounded off an immediate counter attack with a fine individual finish to touch down under the posts for a try which Rob Smith converted. Beverley very nearly added another straight away but Isaac Keighley with the line gaping did not see the support inside him after he had burst clear from halfway.
Middlesborough started the second half strongly with a ten minute assault on the Beverley line, but the defence held firm and Beverley went further ahead with a Smith try after a break down the middle by Foster and some slick inter-passing. More smart handling and pacy running brought a try for Theo Richardson down the left and then another by Foster who powered his way down the right touchline from deep in his own half.
At 34-7 it was all over bar the shouting but Middlesborough rallied strongly in the later stages with tries by number 8 Liam Wilson and wing Harry Brice to which Matthew Todd added one conversion. But Beverley were not finished yet and at the death Smith made a lovely break on his own 22 which led to more crisp inter-passing and an outstanding finish by Richardson who went over for his second try.
On a normal day just about each of the Beverley tries might have warranted being judged as the try of the match such was the thrilling speed and movement in today’s scoring. Smith had an excellent game at fly half in the absence of Phil Duboulay and was well served by colt Rawlins at scrum half. Jacob Holmes did well in the centre, Foster and Ben Woodhouse ran strongly on the wings, indeed every member of the team put in a wholehearted shift. But overall the day belonged to young Richardson at full back who had a truly outstanding match. Apart from his two tries he put in some remarkable tackling and two last ditch try-saving tackles on the Middlesborough wings were out of the top drawer.
Apart from the disappointing showings at Dinnington and Keighley Beverley have continued to maintain fine form since the turn of the year. They have now had eight bonus point victories in the last ten games and this win was probably as good as any of them. An indication perhaps of the quality of today’s performance was that it is indeed a rare occasion when the influential Duboulay is not missed.