Beverley Under-13's returned from Yorkshire Cup finals day rueing a slow start to both halves that denied them victory in the plate competition losing a scintillating game 25—40 to Otley despite a spirited comeback.
There were early warnings signs as full back Louix Gorman was required to make a covering tackle to prevent a try in the first minute. The signs were not heeded however, as the Beavers then conceded four tries in 10 minutes to make the worst possible start.
The most crucial to the final outcome was the third when, with the score at 0-10, Beverley’s top try scorer Henry Fenn crossed the line only to be stripped of the ball in the act of touching down. Otley immediately broke down field running the length of the pitch to turn a potential 5-10 into 0-15. Beverley were behind but not without chances, moments later Fenn was in space with another clear overlap but the final pass to him when the line beckoned lacked precision and the chance disappeared.
The game turned midway through the first half when second row Josh Willans was upended in an illegal dump tackle that produced a yellow card temporarily reducing Otley to 12 players.
Willans picked himself up, stretched off his aching shoulders and demanded the crash ball as he charged onto the resulting penalty. Wronged and sensing opportunity the team were galvanised. Skipper and man of the match Jacob Parkinson scored two quick tries, the first the result of a line break from Bryant Cruz before adding his second with a quick thinking tap and go from a penalty close to the Otley line. Sam Bayes then sent the kick off deep forcing a handling error from a rocked Otley defence. Winning the scrum, fly half Ed Spink sent Bayes through a massive hole to bring Beverley within one try.
With Otley begging for half time Beverley thought they had twice tied the scores only to be denied; first Bayes was adjudged not to have cleanly grounded his own chip through and then in a repeat of the earlier incident Dan Stevens had the ball knocked out of his hands as he put it down to score. 15-20 at half time, the momentum completely with Beverley; unfortunately that energy drained away through the break and it was déjà vu at the start of the second half when Otley put the game out of reach again scoring four unanswered tries.
Probably too keen to attack the action areas, the boys lost their defensive shape, over- committing to the breakdown, bunching around the ball and leaving a series of overlaps.
There were five men over as Otley made it 15-25 and three as they strolled to a 15-30 lead. Beverley were pushing hard, possibly too hard, as they conceded tries seeking the magical comeback; a breakaway try as they kicked away good possession and then a pass was intercepted yards from the Otley line and run down the other end to make the score a rather cruel 15-40.
Desperate not to go down without a fight Beverley then produced 15 minutes of rugby worthy of any final. Parkinson was making breaks all over the park with Willans providing support and protecting his man in contact, the other forwards were not a yard behind as the pack secured a platform that allowed the backs to run through a full playbook of moves.
Young Max Bayes replaced scrum half George Youngs who had to retire with an injury delivering a withering tackle at the end of the first half and he proved an admirable replacement delivering clean quick ball that Spink and big brother Sam used to good effect as centres, Cruz and James Couttie, and full back Gorman ran lines that just bemused a helpless Otley.
Beverley’s fourth try was the pick of the day and the season as Sam ran a loop round two dummy runners taking three defenders out of play and putting Couttie through the resulting gap to touch down and draw the applause of the whole crowd. Fenn finished a move started by a typically strong break from Cruz but the clock eventually beat Beverley to leave Otley Yorkshire Plate winners.
The Beverley squad left disappointed and wondering what might have been but all 18 left the field knowing they had given their all and contributed to a marvellous cup final.
The team would like to give their thanks to John Connell of JC Services & Sons Ltd, Builders and joiners/shop fitters of unit 12 Geneva Way Leads Road, Hull HU7 0DG who had sponsored the team providing new training gear for the game.