Second half comeback helps men’s rugby firsts overcome Lancaster

The men’s rugby firsts fought back from being behind at half-time to overcome rivals Lancaster and continue their long-running dominance over the Red Rose


Images: Philippa Grafton

The last time the rugby teams of York and Lancaster went up against each other they did so in front of a crowd of 3,000 people as part of a thrilling Friday night of Roses. When they kicked off yesterday, watched by approximately thirty people, the game had a very different feel to it – a point underlined by the fact that running the line was Will Sharp’s dad, persuaded to help out just as the whistle was being blown.

Nevertheless the result was the same with York putting in a fine second-half display to overpower their opponents and win comfortably 29-13.

It was the visitors, no longer sporting their let’s-all-look-ridiculous-together bleached blonde hair, who started the strongest, enjoying much of the possession and the territory with York struggling to grab a foothold in the game. Their cause was not helped by the referee who failed to endear himself to the York faithful throughout the match, often blowing up for penalties that the White Rose was less than impressed about.

Lancaster went ahead via the boot of Luke Flanagan, converting his second attempt at a penalty. The referee then risked the wrath of the home side even further, sin-binning centre Matt Pollen and reducing the hosts to 14 men. Flanagan doubled his side’s lead soon after, dropping a goal to make it 6-0.

Captain James Faktor’s side stood firm despite being a man down and after a Lancaster player joined Pollen in the bin for hands in the ruck the hosts struck back with a superb score. Gabriel Adebiyi received the ball near his own try line, put on a demonstration of his lightning pace before releasing flanker Adam Gaskell who impressed with gas of his own to touch down and reduce the away side’s lead to just one point.

Another drop goal, this time from York’s Will Peters, put the hosts ahead but Lancaster came back strong and went into the lead ahead through prop and captain Wilf Whittle. The big man showed an impressive turn of pace, allied with some more evident strength, to barrel over from just inside the 22 and when the extras were added Lancaster were up 13-8 at half-time.

The first forty minutes had been Lancaster’s, in truth, but after the interval it was all about York. Their first of three tries in the second period did come thanks to a slice of luck but once it had been scored York looked resolute and offered no avenue back for the away side.

A high kick bounced fortuitously for York and, after some great work by Matt Pollen, winger Ben Turner went over for the try. Fresher Tomasz Chadwick, who looks an impressive addition to the side, added an impressive conversion from the touchline. The next ten minutes were all York, but Lancaster defended bravely and stood firm, keeping the score at 15-13 to the White Rose.

The game then took a twist and once again it was at the behest of the referee, sin-binning York’s captain James Faktor. A player down and with just a two-point lead the pressure was on York but they were hard-working and professional and didn’t look like conceding in the ten minutes that they played with 14.

The game was wrapped up in the last ten minutes in impressive fashion. Firstly a great break by the powerful Greg Walsh set up scrum-half Will Ward who went over for five more points before some more impressive work by Pollen saw full-back Richard Bremner cross the whitewash to seal the game.

New captain James Faktor was pleased with his side’s performance, their second victory in two games: “I’m pleased with the second win on the bounce. I told the players to forget about Roses, this game was all about getting points on the board for our promotion push.

“The Freshers did well, we haven’t clicked yet but we’re always improving. It’s a pattern we often see, teams hitting us hard early on before our fitness, tactics and hands see us fight back in the second half. We have a great chance of going up, the quality of Freshers is very high, some third years said the trial was the best they’ve ever seen.”

York’s starting XV
1. Rishi Naidoo
2. Gregor Morris
3. Fraser Campbell
4. Jordan Huey Abbott
5. Sam Lord
6. Adam Gaskell
7. Sam Morrison
8. James Faktor (c)
9. Will Ward
10. Will Peters
11. Gabriel Adebiyi
12. Matt Pollen
13. Will Sharp
14. Ben Turner
15. Richard Bremner

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