ROSES 2014: York 1sts fend off Lancaster in gritty rugby win

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Photos: Philip Mourdjis and Jack Western

UYRUFC 1sts emerged as York’s only victorious men’s rugby side as they convincingly beat Lancaster 23-15 in Lancaster’s Roses stadium.

A second-half interception try from Etiene Ekpo-Utip took the visitors beyond Lancaster’s reach, as earlier scoring¬†from Conan Osborne and Thom Arnott had given the White Rose control of the game. The steady boot of Will Peters kept the scoreboard ticking over for York, and in the end, victory was sealed relatively smoothly.

There was a lengthy stoppage in the second half as Tristan Burd received treatment for an allegedly swallowed tongue, with fly-half Peters supposedly joining the medical team to help the man out. But the unfortunate incident failed to cloud York’s excellent performance, particularly given that their squad had been plagued by injuries ahead of the 50th Roses clash.

The Black & Gold began the match bristling with intent, and earned an early penalty, which Peters duly dispatched for a 3-0 lead. Another successful penalty soon followed, and York did not stop there: Sam Durno’s deft grubber kick was pounced upon by centre Conan Osborne, who had too much pace for the hosts’ scrambled defence. Peters converted to give the hosts a commanding 13-0 lead.

Lancaster knew they had to gain a foothold in the game before it completely slipped away from them, and duly responded with a good spell of pressure deep in York territory. The visitors’ tackling was watertight, however, with man of the match Nangle and stand-in captain Matt Thorp making a number of big hits.

York weathered the storm, and soon increased their lead through Arnott’s excellently-taken try. This time, Peters was not able to add the extras, but York’s lead stood at a healthy 18-0 nonetheless as the interval beckoned.

The dynamic of the game changed little after half-time, with York unlucky to have a try disallowed after Tom Arnott was adjudged to have not released the ball.

The home side took this as a warning sign, and quickly injected some extra impetus into their attack. They earned themselves a penalty inside the York 22, and kicked the ball for touch – 3 points simply was not enough with York still 18-0 ahead.

The attack came to nothing, however, and the White Rose cleared their lines. The away side were rattled, however, and Osborne found himself in the referee’s bad books for some foul play. A yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin bin followed.

In part down to Lancaster’s lack of sharpness and York’s strong defence, the hosts could not fully capitalise on their man advantage, but they finally got on the scoresheet as they went over in the corner of the pitch, to make the scores 18-5.

No sooner had Osborne come back on when Blair Nangle found himself sin-binned for a similar offence. Lancaster had the wind in their sails, but the match took a twist as Tristan Burd’s nasty looking injury followed. The front-row forward was down for a long time, which killed the rhythm of the game, perhaps to York’s advantage. Burd was stretchered off, and Nangle came back on to complete York’s full complement.

UYRUFC President Tom Chadwick came on for Peters, and brought some much-needed verve back to the York attacking threat. The match’s decisive moment came minutes later, as a promising Lancaster venture was stopped in its track when wing Etiene Ekpo-Utip brilliantly intercepted a loose pass to stun the hosts. The pacy winger ran all the way from halfway to score under the posts. Conan Osborne elected to aim a drop-kick at goal in place of a conventional conversion, but shanked his kick wide. Nevertheless, York’s lead now stood at 23-5.

The home side kicked off, and miraculously scored within a minute in the corner, as the match took another unexpected turn. Again, the Lancaster kicker’s attempt at goal went begging, and the scores remained 23-10.

Roared on by their vocal home crowd, the Red Rose knew they had to roll the dice, and threw everything into the game. Their sheer endeavour seemed to get them over the line again for another unconverted try to make it 23-15.

A frantic finish to the game ensued, with the White Rose understandably under the cosh. A succession of penalties went in Lancaster’s favour, but York’s defence held out and the final whistle was blown to bring the curtain down on a pulsating encounter.

Despite demoralising and unexpected defeats in the 2nds and 3rds matches, York 1sts had picked up four very valuable points going towards the Black & Gold’s overall tally. UYRUFC celebrated on the pitch in style, as the win capped off a largely positive season for UYRUFC 1sts in their first season in the BUCS Northern Premier League.

After the game, stand-in captain Matt Thorp told Vision: “I thought we expected a much stronger Lancaster side, given the season they’ve had. I’m proud of all the effort from the boys. A lot of us were playing our last game – a fantastic effort, so well done to them.

“I thought the whole forward-pack were superb. Blair Nangle made big hits left right and centre – he did get binned, but we’ll let him off for that. It’s been a tough season, having two coaches and ¬†moving up to a new league, but we showed we could compete in the league that we’re in.”

And injured captain Fraser Kirkley said: “It’s been tough for us all season with injuries. We’ve had eight injuries in our first team. People have had to step up for us. It was a great atmosphere today. Nervous times towards the end, but I always knew we could grind it out.”



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