UNIVERSITY OF YORK 34-10 SHEFFIELD HALLAM
BUCS Premier North B
The men’s rugby firsts secured an important bonus point win over Sheffield Hallam on 22 Acres this afternoon in their bid to retain Premier League status.
First half tries from Conan Osborne and Mike Woods had put York in a commanding position, but it took three more late in the game to fend off a brief Hallam fightback.
In what was York’s final game on 22 Acres this season – and a last bow on home turf for many UYRUFC stalwarts – a quick start from the hosts saw fly half Will Peters kick them into a 3-0 lead. In truth, it should have been more as the Black and Gold failed to turn their monopoly of territory and possession into points on the board.
But with 15 minutes played, a small stroke of luck handed York their first try of the day. After a Hallam man dropped a catch on the halfway line, the home side charged forward and saw Osborne score in the corner. Peters added the extras to make it 10-0.
That lead was extended soon after, York’s dominant pack making light work of a lineout on the five metre line, with Woods bundling over to score.
The scoreline was certainly a fair reflection of the pattern of play, the White Rose looking comfortable against a side they beat 66-14 in the reverse fixture in December. But they were knocked out of their stride by an injury to hooker Rob Stewart, who was left dazed after catching an elbow to the head.
For the first time, Hallam came forward with real purpose and a few missed York tackles allowed the Sheffield side back into the game with a try of their own. Stewart went off to be replaced by Fred Fullman, with Matt Thorp moving to the front row.
It stayed 15-5 at the half-time whistle just after Luke Cunnah was denied a try, with his burst of blistering pace leaving Hallam for dead but also taking him just into touch.
York would have hoped to reassert themselves after the break but were again dealt a cruel hand on the injury front, Woods forced off this time.
Hallam took the opportunity to exert some serious pressure and the hosts were forced to defend doggedly for the next 20 minutes. Having fired a warning shot with a missed penalty, the visitors at last broke York’s resistance having been held up on the try-line for what seemed like an age.
At 15-10 and Hallam in the ascendancy, the victory York required was very much in doubt. But the response was superb.
Osborne added his second try of the match after some excellent work from the returning Tom Chadwick to carve open the Hallam defence. And barely a minute later, York stole back possession and Hugo Watson powered his way to the try-line.
In a matter of minutes, York had recaptured the urgency that had served them well early on and drained any momentum the visitors had picked up.
27-10, after a single conversion from Cunnah, was a far more palatable scoreline to all present in Black and Gold, but there was still time to add some gloss with a fifth try in the final move of the game that left Cunnah the simplest of tasks to add the extras once more.
Stand-in captain Tristan Burd told Nouse afterwards, “It was the result we needed. It was a really good effort from the boys, even if we made hard work of it at times, and five tries and a bonus point is exactly what was needed. Our strength and fitness showed through, and that’s encouraging going into the next few weeks when we’ve got some big games. Today [the last home game of the season] wouldn’t have been satisfactory with anything but a win.”
Away fixtures at Manchester and league leaders Nottingham Trent now await York in their quest to stay in the Premier League.
York XV: Burd (C), Stewart, Mercer, Woods, Arnott, Thorp, Taylor, Nangle, Cunnah, Peters, Sharp, Watson, Osborne, Ekpo-Utip, Prior.