Beverley RUFC has been doing things the tough way this season, having had 4 narrow defeats and regular absenteeism through injury and unavailability, they still found themselves sitting third in the league with a fighting chance of regaining one of the top two spots.
An away trip to Leodiensian RUFC in Leeds, who are the only team to have beaten the previously undefeated top of the table Old Brodleians, was definitely an opportunity to succumb to a fifth defeat, given again there were many absentees from the starting line-up.
Beverley, however, dug in and secured a five-point victory in a tense game that finished 17 points to 24. The Beavers would definitely be buoyed by the return of two key players, Rob Smith and Alfie Hart-Fisher, which was complemented by some strong performances, in particular, Jack Foster on the wing and Jack Houseman in the second row, who was later named man of the match.
The initiative was seized by Leo’s who scored and converted a try from a pushover maul on 14 minutes. Leo’s were to be gifted much of the possession throughout the whole game as Beverley’s Achilles heel proved to be the lineout and scrum, +80% of which went in favour of the home team.
With the ball finally in hand after 20 minutes, captain Phil Duboulay was able to engineer a line break, and with quick hands to the left allowed Jack Foster to go over in the corner. On 30 minutes almost a carbon copy, but this time, Jacob Holmes creating a line break saw Beverley take the lead with a converted try, 5-12.
Just before half-time, the flyhalf and captain Phil Duboulay was invited to take 10 minutes out after being awarded a yellow card for infringement at the breakdown, the penalty that followed glanced the outside of the post into the arms of Jack Foster, who carried the ball at pace 60 yards into Leo’s territory, at which point the home team were happy to hear the half-time whistle.
After five minutes of the second half, Leo’s drew level with a converted try, taking advantage against the 14 men of Beverley to make it 12–12. Then a purple patch for Beverley. In the 52nd minute after taking the initiative from a penalty close to Leo’s try line, Jack Housman was able to twist and turn over the line close to the posts, which was easy for the captain to convert. And then from the kick-off in the 53rd minute.
A good passing move enabled Steve Payne on the wing to make good yardage before offloading to the sprightly Rob Smith, who had looked dangerous all game, and whose turn of pace was too much for the chasing defenders and ran 50 yards to finish in the corner, 12-24 to the Beavers.
It is an understatement to say that Leo’s had the most of the ball, the last 20 minutes was the same as the first, intense pressure on the Beverley line, which finally did result in an unconverted try for the home team and marked the end of the game, 17-24.
This was a remarkable result, the Beverley team showed great resilience and character, and demonstrated to the travelling supporters that they are seriously wanting to push for promotion.
The bylaws of rugby union state that any team that gives away as much possession as Beverley did will be fruitless in their endeavours, but not today, Beverley’s efforts in attack and defence can only be applauded in what was an excellent game, well done to both sides.