Cross city derbies are well known for throwing up exciting, well fought matches and this encounter at the 22 acre field proved no exception.
For the University of York’s 1st XV, this was a game that simply had to be won, for local pride if nothing else. This could be seen in the vigour with which they approached this game, yet except for a sin bin late on, and the inevitable crowd taunting, it was generally a clean and fairly fought game.
The University of York’s keenness to win could be demonstrated by their impressive start to the game. Despite a cold wind against them, Paul Goodall opened the scoring which was then converted, giving them a confidence boost. This was enhanced still further after 16 minutes when sustained pressure paid off as another try was scored to increase their lead. Credit must go to the forwards for this impressive start. Despite York St John being the more physical team, York’s forwards were easily the more dominant in the scrums, rucks and mauls throughout the game.
Impressive forward play and a strong desire for city pride was key to the University of York’s derby victory in their first clash since Varsity
Despite a couple of nasty looking injuries, York’s other university slowly began to find their feet and make inroads into York’s territory as the half wore on. This improved performance paid off as a converted try gave York St John some hope. However, this hope was to be fleeting, as a cheeky block saw the University of York score their third try of the game and go into the half-time break 17-7 in the lead.
Keen to make amends for a fairly disappointing first half display, York St John were quicker out of the blocks at the start of the second half when they looked to get back into the game. However, this pressure did not pay off, and they were soon to fall even further behind after a breakaway University of York try. Not to be deterred, however, York St John continued to pile on the pressure, and in spite of some excellent defending by the forwards, scored a converted try to leave them trailing by ten points with 20 minutes to go. This was to give them some slender hope of pulling off a surprise victory. However, York St John seemed to lack the guile and desire to take the game to the University of York in order to achieve the desired result.
As a consequence, the University of York’s lead was never really threatened for the rest of the game, indeed it seemed far more likely that the lead would increase. York St John’s inability to clear the ball, owing to some poor kicking, meant that the University of York spent the last 20 minutes camped out in their opposition’s 22. However, as far as the University of York were concerned, there was plenty of frustration as they failed further to increase their lead.
A series of bad passes and knock ons prevented York from winning by an even greater margin. Nevertheless, a 22-12 victory over one of their fiercest rivals, with an excellent all round display, will act as a massive confidence boost for the rest of the season.
By Simon Lickley
DEPUTY SPORTS EDITOR