Junior rugby matches are often determined by the relative strengths of team’s attacks; strong runners punching holes in defences, wily speedsters in the backs going around their opposite number.
Sunday’s game on a heavy Clifton Park pitch was different, having spectators of a certain age reminiscing fondly of their own forward battles in the mud with both sides drawing admiration for their courage and skill in executing a fierce defensive battle that ended 25-5 to the home side/
Cliché, but it was truly a game of two halves, with York’s large squad all being given a run out - a completely new, fresh 15 players being brought out for the second half.
The final score thus reflected harshly on Beverley’s fine efforts, given they had been tied 5-5 at half time. Indeed, Beverley dominated the first half possession and territory statistics but had been unable to add to their opening try in the first ten minutes. Bryant Cruz crossed the line following strong line breaks from Logan Radford and Brad Cook as the Beavers went through three good phases, supporting the runner, securing the ball and maintaining the forward momentum. Sam Bayes’ well struck conversion from wide out struck the post which was possibly a visual representation of what was to follow; a very good effort harshly treated and ultimately unrewarded.
That Beverley’s perseverance wasn’t rewarded was due in no small part to York’s outstanding defence; wave after wave, of Beverley pressure being repelled by strong tackling and swift counter rucking. Having tried through the middle Beverley switched wide but were then foiled by the home sides excellent full back. York ended the half with their own period of pressure which ultimately resulted in an equalising try in the corner just before half time.
Man of the match and skipper Bayes led his men out for the second half setting an outstanding example in the centre, missing not one tackle and driving his teammates to greater efforts.
All 17 were to follow his lead in giving their full commitment to each other in repelling a motivated home side unaccustomed to being challenged so fiercely. That they were unable to prevent a four further tries against the second York team was more the burden of working so hard in the first 30 minutes taking its toll in the second period than any individual blame.
Beverley created chances of their own, notably an overlap in the final moments that just went a begging before being returned to the other end of the pitch for the home sides final try. 20-12 would have been a fairer reflection of this absorbing contest but it was not to be.
On a day when the whole squad gave it their all it seems unfair to highlight individual performances over the collective, however, special mentions must also go to Henry Radcliffe and Brad Cook – well played boys.