Not much to write home about here. This was pretty dire stuff. Beverley will want to forget it as quickly as possible, and so will most of the spectators. Pontefract were the better of the two sides and fully deserved their win but neither team, or the game generally, ever really got going. A stiff cold wind did not help, which together with numerous errors, and in Beverley’s case an almost total lack of any cohesive rugby, made for grim viewing.
For quarter of an hour it was difficult to remember Beverley ever having the ball in their hands. The Pontefract pack kept possession and pounded the home line with one attack after another. Only grim determination kept them out. The award of a penalty eventually got Beverley out of their own 22 but one mistake after another by both sides increasingly bedevilled the game. A fine kick by Phil Duboulay to the corner at last got Beverley to the visitors’ line but sadly nothing came of it and play lapsed back into the general mediocrity into which it had settled.
Worryingly for Beverley was the manner in which for the second week running the forwards were easily pushed back in the set pieces. At least this week they did win some line-out ball and there was some determined individual running, particularly by Jack Houseman, Isaac Keighley and Matty Brown, who had a good game, but possession was too easily lost in the contact. Similarly behind the scrum there were occasional individual bursts from Rob Smith and Jack Foster but little sign of any constructive movement. The ball seldom passed through more than two pairs of hands before play broke down. One nice break by Smith did put wing Ratu Vaviano through only for his final scoring pass to go to ground.
Just when it was beginning to look as though neither side would have the wit to score all afternoon two minutes before halftime Pontefract full back Richard Dedicoat burst away from his own 22 and sent wing Dave Findlay racing clear to the line from halfway to give them a 5-0 lead at the interval.
After the break play resumed in its scrappy fashion. Pontefract were still the livelier and more adventurous side and scarcely looked like a side at the foot of the table. A yellow card for scrum half Rob Wilhoite did not help Beverley’s cause but Beverley began to get more into the game. Several times they might have got over but it was not until the game was going into its final quarter they at last managed to get on to the score-sheet. From a maul near the Pontefract line the ball was moved right to Duboulay who swept round the visitors’ defence to touch down. In the swirling wind and from wide out he added a fine conversion to put Beverley into the lead at 7-5.
Beverley then produced for the first time a bit of crisp movement in the backs and they began to look the likely winners. But suddenly with time running out they were undone and the game was won and lost, albeit for Beverley in a slightly unfortunate fashion. Duboulay who had been kicking superbly all afternoon unluckily saw a long raking penalty kick to the Pontefract corner blown dead by the wind. From the resulting scrum back on the halfway line Pontefract immediately swept up to the Beverley line where the ball was moved wide and wing Ciaran Tucker had an easy touch-down for a try which Glen Boyd converted to snatch the victory.
Beverley raised their game in a desperate effort to recapture the lead but it was to no avail. This was a disappointing result for them particularly as the two sides above them were playing each other which gave Beverley the chance to close the gap. If they are to maintain a serious bid for a play-off place they will certainly need to get their act together before next week’s trip to Bridlington.