A good-natured crowd, a fast game, and a tight finish; this was a good day’s rugby. After three defeats in their last four league outings, Beverley badly needed a win here.
Not to get one was a disappointment and they now find themselves languishing in mid-table. It wasn’t for the want of trying and there was plenty of enterprise but in the end, they could have no complaint at the final result.
Crossleyans simply played with greater intensity and at a faster tempo and this frequently made a lively Beverley side look pedestrian in comparison. Beverley were always in it but they were never quite able to match the powerful running of the home side or get the vital score that would have got them into the lead.
With the wind behind them, Crossleyans started at a gallop. At the end of five minutes, Beverley had conceded two penalties, lost two of their own lineouts, and trailed 3-0 to a successful kick by fullback Callum Dunne. Phil Duboulay levelled it on ten minutes with a penalty after Crossleyans had entered a ruck from the side and Beverley might have gone ahead had they not lost a third lineout, this time right on the home line. The Beverley lineout surprisingly struggled all through the first half but fortunately improved as the game wore on.
Duboulay was narrowly wide with a second penalty attempt but did put Beverley ahead with another from thirty-five metres. Crossleyans responded with a fierce onslaught on the Beverley line and when Beverley lost the ball forward from a ruck Dunne crossed for a try to restore the home lead at 8-3. A splendid thirty metre breakaway by Rob Smith nearly brought a try for Beverley but it was Crossleyans who scored again with a converted try on the stroke of halftime by substitute prop Sam Ives.
Now 15-6 down and two scores adrift Beverley needed to make an early impact when play got underway after the break. They quickly got what they wanted. Within a couple of minutes wing, Jack Foster burst away out of his own half on a thrilling forty metre run taking play into the Crossleyans corner and over the line. Although Beverley were adjudged to have been held up the pack powered their way over from the resulting five-metre scrum and Beverley were right back in it at 11-15.
Beverley were bedevilled all afternoon by an inability to retain possession and all too often promising moves foundered through the ball being lost forward. Nevertheless, they fought hard to capture the lead. Sam Kerry, Alfie Hart-Fisher, Jack Houseman and Danny Morris all regularly powered their way into their opponents and the impressive Dale Hodgson was everywhere. Behind the scrum, the Beverley backline showed plenty of ambition but could find little penetration. The tackling by both teams was outstanding all afternoon and there were few clean breaks by either side.
Crossleyans always looked the more dangerous with ball in hand and unlike Beverley seldom wasted possession. A converted try by their prop Jack Pilcher fifteen minutes into the half made it doubly difficult for Beverley at 22-11 but they stuck at it and five minutes from time Smith seized on a loose ball to dart over and bring it back to 22-16.
The final minutes were a tense affair with only one converted try now separating the two sides. Beverley gave it everything in an effort to snatch victory but there was no way through and Crossleyans continue to march on at the head of the table. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game to watch with plenty of good rugby. In the end, probably no-one could begrudge the home side its victory.
All the same, it was a great effort by Beverley who have not come up against many better sides this season and the result could easily have gone either way.