UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 27
UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM THIRDS 20
Wednesday 28th October – BUCS League 1A
It was always going to happen eventually, and when the great winning run ended last week for the men’s rugby firsts it bluntly showed the team just how much more difficult it will be to succeed in Northern Conference 1A. Yet the best sides are those that respond to their losses, and York did this perfectly on Wednesday with a 27-20 victory over Durham thirds. It was not quite as comprehensive as some of their victories last year, but York were still the better team and showed that they are able to compete at this high level.
York left the pitch at half time with the scores at 17-7 but would have felt that they should have been further ahead. Durham clawed back in the second-half to level the scores but a Gryffudd Jones try, his second of the match, sealed the game for the home side. Durham pressed hard in the final stages but the game was ended suddenly as former Captain Mike Callis suffered a heavy knock to the head and lost consciousness. An extremely nervous few minutes followed, but he fortunately began moving shortly before an ambulance arrived on the 22 acres. Durham were awarded a penalty in order to end the match, by which time he was awake and responsive. It was the second time that Callis had suffered a blow to the head this season – he was concussed in a match just two weeks ago.
These scenes obviously overshadowed the moment of York victory, but Captain Alex Redshaw was still happy to congratulate his team. He said the performance was “a good comeback from last week” and they had “played as a team and kept things solid”. The win now means that York have won two and lost one in their opening three matches, a promising start in their new division.
In beating Durham 27-20, the firsts protected a proud unbeaten home league record dating back to 2007. Photograph by George Lowther.
It looked as if it was going to be much easier for York when, after ten minutes, Jones broke through the Durham defence with a perfectly timed run to score his first try. Rob Grant, who kicked his spot-kicks well all afternoon, then converted to put his side 10-0 ahead. York continued to pressurise with a series of four scrums near the Durham try line but the visitors somehow managed to keep them out. Durham were awarded a penalty for handling in the ruck and York had missed a golden opportunity to finish the match.
In the remainder of the half York lost their rhythm, being beaten in the line-out and kicking poorly. An ambitious pass from Jones was intercepted and, despite his best efforts to recover the mistake, was taken over the line for a Durham try. York responded almost instantly, however, as a stylish release from Mike James found Ed Drewett who scored on the left wing.
York were battered and bruised on Wednesday afternoon, but prevailed against Durham for their second win of the season. Photograph by George Lowther.
York would have seen the match out in the second-half but, in the middle of an attack, lost possession and had to watch as the Durham attacker ran the full length of the pitch to score. The away side seemed to have gained control of the match, but Jones’ try settled nerves and when York were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards they restored the ten point lead.
Durham continued to pressurise until the end but were kept out by resilient York defending. An excellent Ben Innes tackle prevented a Durham try that would have made the last stages particularly tense but, as Callis clashed violently with an attacking player, the match was unfortunately ended prematurely.
York Line-up: 1. Ben Innes, 2. Rich Welsh, 3. Rupert Grant, 4. William Forsythe, 5. Alex Redshaw (c), 6. Mike Callis, 7. Rory McGregor, 8. Tom Weir, 9. Tim Walker, 10. Rob Grant, 11. Ed Drewett, 12. Gryffudd Jones, 13. Mike James, 14. Peter Nathan, 15. Tom Buggé
Subs: James Stone, Peter Tarrega, William Felgate, Christian Reid Milligan