Men’s rugby firsts start season with tight win

The BUCS season started on Wednesday and the men’s firsts started as they mean to go on, defeating Newcastle seconds 36-29 in a tight, and often fraught, encounter

Image: Justyn Hardcastle

Image: Justyn Hardcastle

YORK FIRSTS 36

NEWCASTLE SECONDS 29

The rugby firsts denied a spirited comeback from their Newcastle opponents to win their opening game of the season 36-29. In a performance likened to “Jekyll and Hyde” by captain Tom Weir, York raced into a 12-0 lead before going 15-12 down and, having led 36-15, were then pegged back to 36-29 before holding on to claim the points.

The home side, playing at Fortress 22, got off to a good start when some fantastic work from the forwards saw Sam Carr-Archer power over in the corner. James Mortimer stepped up to knock over the additional two points but was less successful moments after when York scored their second try. A nervy Newcastle kick was charged down by centre Matt Pollen who then did the rest to extend York’s lead to 12-0.

Newcastle narrowed the gap to eight points when they converted a penalty in front of the posts, a move that perhaps betrayed a lack of ambition, but it was soon 12-8 when Freddie Reddon intercepted a loose pass from full-back Rich Bremner to touch down underneath the posts. Newcastle were now playing with more confidence and an impressive run from Dave Swetman put the visitors ahead for the first time; sprinting down the far touchline Swetman showed impressive pace and strength to evade a couple of tackles and once he was through the line there was no catching him.

York had enjoyed a mixed first half and had by no means replicated their pre-season performance from the week before. Passes had been misplaced and tackles missed but fortunately for Weir’s side they were able to go in ahead at the break when some superb running by Matt Pollen saw York camped on Newcastle’s try-line, prop George Wissen eventually barreled over to make the score 17-15 at the break.

Pete Tarrega evades a desperate Newcastle tackle. Image: Justyn Hardcastle

In the second half York’s performance improved hugely. The first fluent backs move of the game saw full-back Bremner extend York’s lead to 24-15 and Bremner then atoned for his part in Newcastle’s interception try by scoring his second of the game; once again a confident passing move found him and he did the rest.

The game then took a farcical twist when the ball got stuck up a tree. If York’s most recent tries had been of a higher standard then there was no greater reminder of the fact that we weren’t at Twickenham than seeing spectators and substitutes attempt to dislodge the ball with a nearby football; needless to say they were unable to do so.

With another ball located York once again went on the attack. More good stuff from the backs saw Bremner find Tarrega and last week’s hat-trick hero scored his first try of the season to see the home side apparently home and dry at 36-15. Seemingly out of the game Newcastle decided now was the time to wake up and play some rugby. Only a superb try-saving tackle from fly-half James Mortimer prevented Newcastle from getting a foothold back in the game but, with Weir’s side now down to 14 men after Rich Welch was sin-binned, the visitors weren’t to be denied for too long when a mis-kick clearance went straight to Newcastle’s No.8 who had the simple task of falling under the posts to make it 36-22.

In a game in which two York players are sin-binned tempers threaten to boil over. Image: Justyn Hardcastle

York were briefly back to a full compliment of players before hooker Gregor Morris got himself in the bin and once again the home side were facing a barrage of attacks from the opposition. The superbly named James Excell set up a tense finish when he was put in by winger Reddon to make it 36-29 with only a matter of minutes remaining.

The tension was apparent but York just about held on to get off to a winning start. It was by no means a great performance but it was a case of job done for skipper Tom Weir who was delighted that the season had commenced with a win; “They got a few tries from our silly errors and we had a little bit of ill-discipline at the end which nearly cost us but the way we closed out the game at the end with all the lads pulling together and putting their tackles in…I’m absolutely astonishingly happy and hopefully we can keep Fortress 22 for the season”.

YORK TEAM

1. George Wissen (Rich Welch)

2. Gregor Morris

16. Rupert Grant

4. William Forsythe

5. Sam Carr-Archer

13. James Bennett (Sam Morrison)

7. Rory McGregor

8. Tom Weir ©

9. Tom Bugge

10. James Mortimer

11. Pete Tarrega

12. Matt Pollen

20. Will Felgate

14. Gabriel Adebiyi

15. Rich Bremner

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