New year, new Beverley. After a disappointing late autumn in which they rather lost their way Beverley in 2019 look to have recaptured the early season spark that had them riding high in Yorkshire One.
Following their impressive win the previous week against Pontefract this was another first-class display and another well earned victory. Moreover, for most of the game, they did it with fourteen men after Alfie Hart-Fisher had been red-carded early on for dangerous play. They owed a lot to their pack which even down to seven men still ended the game looking the stronger of the two sets of forwards.
It was a lively match throughout with plenty of thrilling rugby in spite of the near gale force conditions. Both sides had excellent back lines and ran the ball at every opportunity. Given the cold and the strength of the wind the handling by both sides was admirable. The defining difference was that Beverley held the whip hand up front and in Phil Duboulay they had the master technician of the match. Apart from one brief aberration when he inexplicably hoisted a high kick straight up into the wind which promptly blew it backwards he dictated the game and in the second half used the wind to far better effect than Rishworthians had done in the first.
Josh Kelly was narrowly wide with an early penalty attempt for Rishworthians but otherwise, Beverley, playing against the wind, generally looked the more likely to take the lead. They duly did after eighteen minutes when Jack Houseman touched down following a five-metre scrum. After that, they never really looked back despite losing Hart-Fisher who had tried to see off an opponent with a stiff arm approach. Isaac Keighley burst through the middle to set up another scrum five metres out from which some slick interplay ended with wing Theo Richardson going over in the corner for a second try.
Two yellow cards left Rishworthians ending the half with thirteen men and uncontested scrums. Beverley made the most of it by adding a third try from Luke Hazell on the stroke of halftime and then securing the four-try bonus point try shortly after it when Lewis Szarma seemed to run through the home defence almost unopposed from 20 metres out while the referee was playing the advantage from a penalty. Duboulay added the conversion and at 22-0 Beverley were more or less home and dry.
It was by no means all one-way traffic. The pacy home backs always posed a threat and it was only some determined Beverley tackling that kept them out. Eventually, Rishworthians did get back into the game with a try by lock Fraser Swarbrooke from a scramble on the line following a penalty lineout. Kelly added the conversion with a remarkable kick into the fierce wind from the touchline, although earlier on Duboulay from the same position had been denied only by the ball rebounding from the upright.
Although by now Rishworthians had little chance of turning the game round they never stopped going for it. There was some thrilling running by both sides and for the second week some terrific Beverley defending of their line. In the end, the only further score came from Beverley. Rob Smith was bundled into touch just short of the line but Rishworthians were promptly penalised for a crooked throw-in and from the resulting scrum, Duboulay slipped over for a fifth Beverley try.
The loss of Hart-Fisher, who had been having a fine game, was undoubtedly a blow for Beverley. But the manner in which the seven-man Beverley pack continued to take the game to their opponents right to the end was perhaps the decisive factor in this impressive victory. All in all, it was an enjoyable game, a good win for Beverley, sportingly played, and good hospitality. Just a pity about the disruptive wind conditions.