It was a case of what might have been as Beverley Under-18 Colts suffered a narrow 33-31 friendly defeat at Moortown on Sunday.
The fixture had been arranged because Moortown regularly face strong West Yorkshire opposition and will also host Beverley’s Yorkshire Bowl Final against ‘Westies’ Huddersfield in April.
It was a deliberate test which became infinitely more difficult when illness and other absences left the Colts with only 14 men on the day of the game.
With a home player on loan, Beverley began strongly and try chances beckoned for Bailey Wood, Joe Barrett and Alex Hodgkinson only for last gasp defence or wrong options to keep the scores level. Moortown then enjoyed their first spell of pressure to take the lead with a breakaway converted try after 23 minutes.,
However, this was a game when the forwards and backs stood up to a man, especially around the rucks.. The excellent front row of Alex Morris, Spencer Roberts and Tom Jackson were solid in the scrum and punched holes in the loose through which second rowers Adam Carpenter and Ifan Downey together with fleet-footed flanker Charlie Fish and number 8 Rhys Innes continually danced through to make great yards.
Scrum half Toby Redman was feeding fly half Will Dobson quick ball enabling him to keep the backs on the front foot as he repeatedly weaved his way forward on the surprisingly hard ground.
Hodgkinson was then forced off through injury after making a tackle on the same firm ground but the Beverley lads continued to press and Brandon Leggett, switched from centre to full back for this game, galloped over. Unfortunately, just before half-time Moortown managed another try and a 14-5 lead.
The second-half continued the see-saw scoring with the enthusiastic home side crossing before an excellent forwards move saw Downey glide over for an unconverted try.
Moortown were not giving up and scored twice more but this was Beverley’s half as two glorious tries from Rhys Innes either side of a searing effort by Barrett gave them a 26-19 points advantage after the break.
Barrett and Wood were also both denied tries by the slimmest of forward passes in a match that ended with a proud set of lads and and a series of ‘what if’s’ surrounding what would have happened if reliable kicker Hodgkinson had been around to convert more of the tries or if the side could have arrived with two or three more players.
Either way, it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance.