The supporters and guests at Beaver Park were treated to one more early Christmas present with another thrilling game of rugby between top of the table Old Crossleyans and Beverley.
Both teams battled to the end and delivered a very entertaining game of rugby, very well refereed by Simon Franks who allowed a fierce competition to ensue without too much incident and saw the home team give the top team only their second defeat of the season, Beverley 25 – 15 Old Crossleyans.
Christmas dinners were still being enjoyed in the packed clubhouse which had a very festive theme when the game kicked off. Christmas jumpers and Christmas costumes were adorned, but it wasn’t until the 25th minute that the home team had some Christmas cheer after a sustained period of excellent defence from the Beavers saw reward come after a good cross-field passing movement caught the returning Luke Hazell in full flight, to finish in the corner with an excellent try, 5-0.
The defensive lines from both teams were excellent, but Beverley’s determination to fight back the regular onslaughts from the visitors was a testimony to every man in the squad. Time and time again the top of the table team looked menacing, but the Beverlonians were able to snuff out the flame.
A very tight first half was finished off with a penalty kick conversion from the visitors 5-3 at half-time. The supporters from both teams now knew this was going to be a very close game, but the home fans were all buoyed by the fact that Beverley were giving a great performance, which the whole club felt had been coming.
Three minutes into the second half a yellow card against the visitors gave Duboulay – who had an excellent game at flyhalf the opportunity to extend the lead which he duly dispatched. This took the wind out of the sails of the visitors, and with one man in the bin created the smallest of line break opportunities which Duboulay took again shaking off tackles and covering 50 yards to find the ever-present Rob Smith in support who finished under the posts in front of the home fans. Easily converted 50 minutes into the game Beverley found themselves 15-3 up. Could this be a momentous day?
Three minutes later it certainly felt like it could be, another line break one of only four or five in the entire game saw plenty of yards gained by the home team, but the Crossleyans scramble defence did well. However, the ball spread wide with a well-judged cross-field kick to Mike Meluish (joint man of the match with Joey Franklin) who made 10 yards to just fall agonisingly short of the line, but tight-head prop Danny Morris was on hand to drive the ball over the try line, again converted by Duboulay, 22-3, and the home fans were enjoying every second.
The visitors were not giving in my any stretch and pummelled the Beverley line for the next 12 minutes, during which the home team were imperious in defence, alas something had to give and on 61 minutes old Crossleyans finally got over for their first try, unconverted.
Five minutes later after a scrum penalty – the Beverley forwards were immense all day and deserved all the accolades they received in the bar afterwards, Duboulay was able to steady any nerves with a penalty conversion. In the final moments of the game, a determined Crossleyans (showing why they are/were top of the table) went over for their second try, this time converted, 25-15 and the referee’s whistle blew for full-time.
The Beverley players and supporters were ecstatic with the result, which was thoroughly deserved in a game with passion and commitment that exceeded all other matches this season, this was a big result.
Every player wearing the green and white hoops of Beverley could be mentioned for playing their part in a momentous victory, the ensuing atmosphere in the clubhouse where the festivities continued was great for all to enjoy just before the Christmas break, and there was even a visitation from shepherds, angels some proud parents and the baby Jesus to recognise the event that we’d all just witnessed.
New head coach Craig Hancock was so proud of the team he couldn’t hold back the tears of joy and plans to make this game a turning point in Beverley’s season.
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