The blue and golds came away from this West Riding trip pointless but can take some positives from the performance with a hugely under strength side. They led 10-8 at the break but the game went away from them in the second half. Indeed, the first half was a nip and tuck contest with both sides playing some enterprising rugby in the dry conditions.
Pat Howdle had a number of his main strike players unavailable and had to do some reshuffling of the side prior to kick off. Half-backs Jack Humphries and Glen Anfield were unavailable as were centre Ben Calvert and props Lee Stevens and Rich Etherington. Jack Howdle was drafted in at the stand off half position and a debut was handed to Luke Parker in the centre. Guy Adams, Ian Pollard and Paul Atkinson were all selected on the bench perhaps when they thought retirement was more on the agenda.
The hosts had the better of the attacking moments in the early stages. However, they threw one pass too many and a pass was intercepted by Luke Parker, who sprinted away and got an inside pass to Josh Pooley. Pooley managed to escape the chasing cover to go the remaining 40 meters and score out wide.
Watkin was unable to add the difficult conversion. Moments later as the home side countered, a try seemed certain but a superb one on one tackle by Steve Connolly not only saved a try but bundled the Birstall attacker into touch.
Midway through the half several attcking sets on the Beverley line finally saw the home side score beneath the posts. The effort was converted for a
6-4 lead to Birstall. The hosts continued to press but got a little over-ambitious. The ball was snatched by Craig Morfitt, who broke from deep inside his own half. When he was finally brought to ground the position was set up for Sam Coleman to escape the clutched of a couple of defenders to score beside the posts. Watkin adding the extras. Just before the break the home side added a penalty goal to reduce Beverley’s lead to 10-8.
The second half saw the West Riding enjoy greater possession and territorial advantage. Their number seven and ten seemed to be running the show. They added a further four tries before Beverley rallied in the closing stages. There was some sterling work in cover defence at times, particularly from Jack Howdle, who chased back on to deny the home side tries on at least two occasions. A late consolation try was added by Ryan Watkin five minutes from time. Man of the match was Sam Coleman whose non stop performance just piped Jack Howdle in the vote.
Club officials were not downhearted about this opening defeat with something of a scratch side. With numerous players to return from injuries and work commitments surely things can only get better. The club are on something of a learning in this their first season in the Yorkshire League. The general experience was a positive one with the Birstall club being pleasant after match hosts.
This Saturday Beverley are at home to Mirfield Stags kicking off at 2.30pm at the Beverley Leisure Centre. Mirfield, with some well-known rugby league personalities such as Robbie Paul involved with the club, are expected to bring a strong side into town. However, Pat Howdle expects to have a number of his big guns returning and hopes to unveil another two new signings.
Final Score: Birstall Victoria 32 Beverley ARLC 16 | Reported by Nick Robinson