It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means but York men’s firsts held on for a 19-17 victory, giving UYRUFC a highly satisfying clean sweep of this weekend’s rugby. Having enjoyed arguably the club’s most successful season ever, York were strong favourites going in to Sunday’s showpiece event.
However, the result was to hang in the balance until the dying minutes, Lancaster desperate in their attempts to snatch any sort of late score which would have been enough to give them the win. As had been the case for much of the game though, they ultimately lacked the creativity to force their way through York’s determined resistance and the final whistle sparked jubilant celebrations and great relief on the packed touchlines.
The game had looked almost secure when a herculean effort from the York pack saw them drive a five metre scrum over the home try line, allowing the colossal Tom Weir to claim his second try of the afternoon. Rob Grant’s nerveless conversion had then put York two scores clear at 19-11 but some uncharacteristic indiscipline from the visitors allowed Lancaster to kick two simple penalties and set up a frantic finish.
Though a somewhat limited Lancaster side rarely threatened the York line, they were able to rely on a fairly constant stream of infringements from the away side to keep the scoreboard moving. Despite playing with a strong wind at their backs, York struggled for large periods of the first half, falling 6-5 behind after Weir’s early score. With York’s halfbacks using the wind to dominate territory, their pressure did ultimately tell when Ed Drewett raced in at the right hand corner, Tim Walker putting him in after a perfectly executed blindside move from a scrum.
Gabriel Adebiyi was a menace on the wing for Lancaster all afternoon. Photograph by George Lowther.
It was York who played the more expansive rugby throughout but they lacked the necessary composure in attack to pull clear, a couple of promising runs from speedster Gabriel Adebiyi failing to lead to any points. Though their hosts offered much in terms of physicality and endeavour, York’s defence was always up to the task and not even the attentions of a mankini clad half-time pitch invader could distract them from recording a deserved win.
Things had been much simpler for the seconds who put Lancaster to the sword running out 45-0 victors, Matt Pollen the star of the show with a hat trick of tries. The thirds were also victorous, by a 34-22 margin in an exhibition fixture. With the rugby sevens fixtures delivering a hat-trick of wins, York remained unbeaten across the weekend.
“I’m really pleased the first team ended on a high,” said Alec Porter, the coach. “After the upset of missing out on promotion [to Premier B on an administrative technicality] we targeted a clean sweep of wins, as with last year. It’s a massive achievement to get six out of six.
“It was always going to be a close game and, despite having an eight point lead, we were hanging on.”
Meanwhile the women’s fixture was abandoned as a 5-5 draw after an air ambulance was called to take an injured York player to hospital. The women’s sevens match ended in a 12-12 tie on Saturday.