After the turgid rugby of the British Lions South African tour watching rugby again as it should be played has been like a breath of fresh air. Sadly today it all came from Crossleyans.
Beverley were given the runaround for the whole of the first half and much of the second by a side which looked twice as determined and twice as quick. After their fine performance the previous week this was a hugely disappointing showing even allowing for the superior quality of this week’s opposition.
From the start, Beverley were on the back foot. For twenty minutes they could hardly get their hands on the ball and when they did they wasted what possession they had with poor handling and some ill-judged kicking which invariably failed to find its mark and merely allowed Crossleyans to run back at them. Eight penalties conceded in the first half-hour did not help.
Three of them fly-half Joe Gallagher converted to give Crossleyans a 9-0 lead. The referee, presumably becoming exasperated with Beverley’s penalty count, eventually yellow-carded Phil Duboulay for what in itself looked a fairly innocuous offside.
With halftime approaching, Beverley were looking more and more out of sorts. Five minutes before the break Crossleyans’ flanker James Hinchliffe from thirty metres outburst through a series of half-hearted tackles to touch down for a try, and on the stroke of halftime an angled kick across-field, where the Beverley defence was nowhere to be seen, led to a pushover try for replacement Fredrico Gandoflo. Gallagher kicked both conversions and Beverley turned round 23-0 down.
If they were going to pull this game out of the fire Beverley needed to be getting on with it and to their credit, they started the second half with plenty of vigour. There was a good deal more urgency about their play and for lengthy spells, they camped in the home 22. But despite the prompting of half-backs Rob Smith and Duboulay they could find little cohesion or penetration in the backline.
It was all very static, too many passes taken virtually standing still, and a lack of any real threat. Only on the few occasions that Luke Hazell had the ball in his hands did you think anything might come of it.
Three times Beverley declined simple penalty kicks at goal in an effort to score tries but each time it came to nothing.
The Crossleyans defending was solid and held out comfortably and they were always quick to turn defence into attack. Gallagher at fly-half controlled the game superbly throughout with some astute kicking and decision making. Beverley laboured hard and their second half at least was a spirited affair. Rob Smith made some darting breaks from long distance which looked to be Beverley’s most likely means of getting on the scoresheet but support was either lacking or the attack failed through poor handling.
Misfortune followed one spectacular forty metre Smith run when the ball ran loose and Crossleyans counter-attacked from deep in their own half with wing forward Rob Oliver rounding it off with another home try. It was Crossleyans only score of the second half although only a forward pass and a knock-on when the line twice gaped denied them further tries.
With the game deep into injury time, Beverley, at last, got some reward for their second-half endeavour. Another break by Smith carried on with a determined run by Rhys Innes set up a try in the corner for Hazell which Duboulay converted with a fine kick from the touchline.
Not many positives to take from this match, as football managers like to put it, but Beverley can at least take some comfort from the line-outs where the welcome return of Kris Renwick and his accurate throwing has at long last helped the Beverley line-out to again function efficiently. Beverley did not lose a single line-out all afternoon. Apart from that not much to cheer about.
Final Score: Old Crossleyans 28 Beverley RUFC 7
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