Penrith and Beverley RUFC battled out a 19 – 19 draw on Saturday in a thrilling match and a grandstand finish. Beverley looked to have won it with a try in the dying seconds but the conversion from in front of the posts went agonisingly wide leaving the game ending in a draw. Taking the afternoon as a whole it was probably a fair result. Both teams had contributed to a fine match and it would have been tough on either side to have lost it.
Starting in the bright Cumbrian sunshine Beverley RUFC immediately put themselves under pressure with two awful kicks out of defence and only a dropped pass in the Penrith centre saved them from going behind. Both sides then proceeded to spurn numerous try scoring opportunities with some embarrassingly poor handling and it took a penalty from Penrith fly half Steve Wood to get the first points on the board.
When Beverley RUFC eventually got their act together they started to look more like the side which had begun the season so excitingly. The ball was moved crisply through the hands and there was a menace in every move that we have not seen in recent weeks. Best of all they kept it simple. Junior Tupai was back to his best and the home defenders had their work cut out trying to deal with the powerful running of Jade Gardiner. Phil Duboulay, particularly in defence, was outstanding.
Junior Tupai, was ‘back at his best’ for Beverley RUFC at Penrith this Saturday
With Beverley RUFC increasingly dominating the play they deservedly took the lead after 25 minutes. A long fly hacked Penrith clearance went straight to Goran Jelencic out on the wing. Jelencic took the ball and promptly scythed his way through the covering defence for thirty metres before sending Richard Bussey steaming down the touchline for a superb try under the posts. It was as thrilling a try as we have seen from Beverley all season and showed what a danger Jelencic can be when he has the ball in his hands.
Five minutes later he was on the end of another scoring move. Phil Dale emerged with the ball from a Penrith ruck in the Beverley half to set up an attack down the left. David Worrall carried it on before moving the ball across field to Jelencic who powered his way over with a couple of would-be tacklers grimly hanging on. Duboulay added both conversions and at this stage Beverley were going well and looking comfortably on course to win the game.
Sadly for them their 14-3 lead was turned into a 14-16 deficit within a ten minute spell either side of halftime. Three minutes before the break Wood kicked his second penalty and then with the last action of the half Penrith number eight Mike Raine went over under the posts for a try. Wood’s conversion and then a third penalty at the start of the second half took Penrith into the lead.
Although Beverley had the edge in the first half the home pack in the later stages had begun to look increasingly threatening and in the second half they steadily got on top despite some stout Beverley resistance. For long periods Beverley hardly got their hands on the ball and the game looked to be slipping away from them. But for all their possession a fourth penalty from Wood was all that Penrith had to show for it.
Towards the end Beverley RUFC came back strongly and mounted a tremendous finish. For the last five minutes they pounded the home line without quite being able to get over it. Just when it looked as though the final whistle was going to deny them Tupai carved his way through for a try under the posts to level the scores. Surely the simplest of conversions was going to win it for Beverley. But the ball went wide and that was that. In the end it was a fair result to a good match played in a great spirit. Thrilling stuff.
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