A busy day at Beaver park – the first team game was pre-empted with an excellent win for Beverley Under 14s in the semi-final of the Yorkshire cup against Otley. Good luck in the final, also at Beaver Park in a couple of week’s time.
The annual Old Boys reunion was already in full throw by the kick-off time. It was great to see the crowd boosted by many old friends of bygone ages.
Old Crossleyans kick off the first half in dry conditions and a stiff breeze blowing across the ground and with the pitch once again in great condition – it promised to be an opportunity for open running rugby.
Beverley was soon under pressure in the scrums, going backwards at an alarming rate in the first two scrums when on 4 minutes a penalty to Crossleyans was awarded when Beverley’s pack failed to hold the pressure. The kick from just left of the posts was converted by Ed Cockcroft. (0 – 3)
Beverley was not disheartened and quickly gained ground pressurising the Crossleyans line. A deft kick to the corner by captain Duboulay from a penalty put Beverley within striking distance from the line. The Lineout was cleanly taken and the catch and drive saw Isaac Keighley crash over in the corner (5 – 3)
The conversion from wide right fell just shy of the posts.
As the game progressed the much-changed Beverley pack began to contest in the set pieces and the forward battle was a well-balanced affair providing Beverley with a fair share of possession. On 14 minutes another skilfully placed cross kick from Duboulay and excellent pressure play from the back row forced a fumble and knock on 5 meters from the Crossleyans line.
Beverley maintained the pressure for a sustained period but couldn’t break the determined Crossleyans defence.
Eventually, a long clearance kick eased the pressure and transferred play to the Beverley 22 metres line where a scrum for an accidental knock-on was awarded to Crossleyans. Excellent fast handling stretched the Beverley defence right across the pitch and with the Crossleyan full back coming in the line saw Josh Hunt dramatically dive over in the right corner (5 – 8).
The kick from wide right fell well short of the target.
On 28 minutes Beverley was back in Crossleyans 22 territory with ever-present pressure from the dogged back row forcing a knock forward by the Crossleyans full-back. Quick thinking and dexterous footwork by Jacob Holmes who seized the ball sidestepped the full-back and dotted down under the posts (10 – 8).
Duboulay slotted the simple conversion (12 – 8)
Every time Beverley edged ahead Crossleyans fought back with increased determination, and so it was again. 32 minutes saw an excellent display of fast interchange of passes with the ball finally falling to Cameron Brannon who claimed the points. (12-13).
The conversion was again missed by the Crossleyans kicker. On a better day, Crossleyans could have been 10 points ahead had the kicks gone over.
One last push in the first half from Crossleyans after a series of pick and go’s they crashed over the line but excellent if desperate defence from Liam Butler and Phil Duboulay saw the ball held up – no try.
As the scoreline reflects the honours were even, Beverley having the better of open play whilst Crossleyans with a bigger set of forwards were stronger in the close encounters. (HT 12 – 13)
Into the second half and Crossleyans seemed to lose their discipline – an unacceptable comment to the referee from the Crossleyans number 8 and the yellow card was wielded. Old Crossleyans down to 14.
5 minutes later following a series of high tackles and the Crossleyans No 12 Chris Vine followed his team mate into the bin for 10 minutes. The resultant penalty saw Beverley forwards driving for the line and once again Isaac Keighley scrambled over the line to put Beverley back in the lead (17 – 13)
The conversion was cleanly struck by Duboulay and the ball sailed over (19 – 13).
Once again Crossleyans struck back – penetrating up to the Beverley 10-meter line. At the breakdown Beverley were caught coming in at the side – Penalty, the kick from Ed Cockcroft fell right of the posts.
The referee spoke with Beverley captain about slowing the ball and on 55 minutes one too many offences saw Jack Housman take one for the team and sat out the next 10 minutes. This lightened the Beverley pack even further with the excellent (man of the match) Rhys Innes moving into the second row.
Old Crossleyans opted for the scrum from the resultant penalty and although the Beverley scrum was solid the Crossleyans number 8 Luke Sturman picked up from the back, drove the line and dotted down to push Crossleyans to within one point of Beverley (19 – 18).
With time running out it looked (to the Beverley supporters at least) as though Beverley may just scrape home but on 76 minutes a Beverley high tackle led to a penalty just to the right of the posts.
The kick from Cockcroft went high, hit the left-hand post and fell over the bar (19 – 21).
And so, it remained until the final whistle.
Beverley will regret some missed opportunities but should proud of the performance of a much-changed and disrupted team.
Next game Keighley away on the 21st March – Coronavirus permitting!!