In a preview of this year’s Varsity confrontation, York managed a comfortable victory away from home on Wednesday at the Railway Institute against York St John.
York seemed slow getting into the game after their win over Leeds the week before, and were initially stifled by the York St John tactics of keeping the ball tight and trying to restrict York’s exciting back division.
York’s early error-ridden and scrappy performance was exacerbated by the sin-binning of Alex Redshaw-Wood, a decision which didn’t endear the referee to the York players who considered it highly contraversial.
York were unable to play their usual free-flowing game, with York St John’s restrictive gameplan working to perfection and penalty goals being exchanged as the game drifted towards half-time.
The half-time whistle came with York only narrowly ahead and struggling to break free of the shackles imposed by the larger York St John pack. York were keeping their rivals in the game by letting them off the hook with mistakes and a lack of discipline.
The second half began much as the first had ended, but York’s continuing dominance meant that the breakthrough was inevitable.
The next points were scored by Mike Callis, who rounded off a brilliant phase of play, with forwards and backs linking up after a great break by Nick Brown, who has been in outstanding form this season.
The try finally opened the floodgates that had been straining all afternoon and, seconds later, substitute Peter Nathan managed to outpace several York St John players to set up fly-half Thomas Benbow for the second try.
This was quickly followed by a further score from Mike Callis and one for Danny Stacey as York eased into a strong position over their rivals. The pace of the game slowed down further as yellow cards were shown to both York and York St John players. From this point, York seemed happy to sit back and hold on to their lead.
York St John did manage a consolation try, with their forward pack managing to drive over the line from short range.
However, York closed out the game to put the seal on a messy, if eventually comfortable victory. The performance was not up to the superb standard shown against Leeds, but the win puts York 1sts third in the BUSA conference, with four wins out of five and gives them a great chance of promotion.
One supporter on the sidelines commented that “the boys produced a decent display today, and it is always great to get another victory over our rivals in a derby game. However, they will know that they can play far more disciplined and dominant rugby than this and will look to build on this display as they push for promotion and victory in Roses.”
The season is shaping up to be a promising one for the Rugby Club, as the Men’s 2nds are also sitting on top of their table with three wins out of three and the Women’s 1sts have enjoyed a confident start, the highlight so far being a 111-0 thrashing of Newcastle 2nds at home last month.