Selby RUFC 23 Pontefract RUFC 8
After 18 months of enforced inactivity, competitive rugby union finally returned to Sandhill Lane on Saturday (September 4) in front of a large derby crowd.
The Swans took on close rivals and friends Pontefract, and great credit must go to both teams, ably supported by an excellent referee for putting on such a cracking first match of the season. Selby showed that they have not been sat around idly twiddling their thumbs during the layoff as they set off at a furious pace, throwing the ball wide with some fine back play before. After a good turnover by second-row Ibbetson, the forwards then combined well to muscle hooker Jay Robinson over for an early 5-0 lead.
With Pontefract barely getting an early look in, thoughts of a comfortable afternoon beckoned, but these were soon dispelled as the team started to get their act together, particularly in the forwards where Selby’s scrum came under some intense pressure from Pontefract’s big boys who stole Selby’s put in and forced their way over for 5-5 after 15 minutes. With Selby now looking decidedly second best and struggling to clear their line against some fierce Pontefract tackling, a penalty from Liam Kaye took Pontefract into the lead. After a rare excursion into the Pontefract half, Swans fly-half Henry Wright slotted a long-range penalty for 8-8. Selby then surprisingly scored another simple penalty to take the lead on half-time, going all-in for the line out instead which was then messed up, not for the first time, leaving everything level at the break.
Selby started the second-half with another early score. From a seemingly innocuous position, young prop Max Wotton managed to charge Pontefract’s clearing kick down with his face (no harm done there then!) before new captain Ash Parkinson added insult to injury by nipping in to pinch the simple touch down off him for 13-8. Back came Pontefract again though, as once again their forwards started to control possession, which together with their fly half’s Big Bertha boot, meant Selby became pushed back into their own 22. However, Selby’s defence was up to the job and every bit as good as Pontefract’s, with some ferocious tackling keeping their line intact. Indeed, it was from another excellent tackle in Selby’s 22 that Pontefract’s ball was dislodged, and then quickly transferred out to young Joe Ramsay on the left wing who blazed away from the Ponte cover for a score under the sticks and 20-8 lead with 30 minutes remaining. That was how the score remained for most of the half as both teams battled it out in midfield but with Selby becoming more and more dominant as, maybe, their greater fitness and mobility started to show and with their scrummage and line out certainly much improved.
Selby thought they had secured the four-try bonus point as the pack drove a late line out over, but Ponte managed to hold them up before the win was secured with a late Wright penalty for a slightly flattering final score of 23-8 and well-deserved spectator applause for both teams. So, overall, an excellent start to the season for Selby and they now go again on Saturday (September 11) away at league newcomers Huddersfield YMCA who are relative unknowns but will no doubt provide another stern test.
Report by Ian Marlow.
The team. (09-09-56 SU)