York’s First XV showed their bristling intent to banish last season’s disappointment with a hard-fought victory over Hull in the University’s opening BUCS fixture on 22 Acres.
Promotion from Northern 1A is the priority for this side, who suffered relegation last year, and this early triumph and promising pre-season suggests that such ambition is not misplaced whatsoever.
This was a game moulded entirely by sodden and slippery conditions, which made for attritional and fragmented affair largely characterised by handling errors and ill-discipline.
The visitors were pinged consistently for infringements at the breakdown and at set-pieces, handing York repeated opportunities to station themselves firmly inside the opposition’s territory.
Kicking inside-centre Matt Barton, looking to build on an impressive first year in the team, missed his first penalty after a quarter of an hour, but made no mistake with his second, which saw Hull have a man sent to the sin bin after repeated transgression.
The Black and Gold were able to sustain pressure at this stage. Alex Davey at eight was tigerish in the loose and insatiable around the fringes, while second-row Will O’Donnell played through significant pain, with a badly cut knee, and excelled.
All the while, Iffy Chukwulobelu continues to prove himself as a mobile and technically sound hooker, having moved forward from the back row.
Winger Marcus Goss impressed on BUCS debut, and it was he who dotted over after the half-hour mark. York shifted the ball swiftly, ending with Goss in the far corner who made no mistake with his finish to make it 10-0.
Before half-time, outside-centre Will Thompson went off with suspected concussion and the visiting side got off the mark at 10-3.
Further rain only exacerbated matters, with clean handling a virtual impossibility for both sides in a game that fast descended into a set-piece slugfest. Hull, backed by a boistrous and boozy following, made a good start to the second-half and forced a try in the corner, and added the extras to level terms.
It was Hull’s continual ill-discipline that would cost them. Despite their dogmatism, they were chaotic in open play and their runners refused to run straight enough at times.
This allowed the Black and Gold to establish a real platform. Barton knocked over a penalty to regain the lead, before captain Ed Suttle’s ripping of possession from his counterpart eventually led to the centre repeating the trick for 16-13, which would prove a decisive lead.
The visitors set up camp in York territory but their set-piece responded in kind, extracting decision after decision in their favour, although fly-half Ollie Martin’s kicking from hand proved inconsistent.
Another penalty at scrum time on the final play allowed the hosts to kick the ball out and the referee to sound the whistle; this would form a neat analogy for a key factor that would go some way towards deciding the contest.
Hull are a team accustomed to winning; they were promoted into this league from Northern 1B and won the Northern Conference Cup last year. This was their first defeat in ten games in all competitions, of which the main architecture was York’s essential fighting spirit.
Skipper Ed Suttle told Nouse after the game: “We are really happy. The boys stuck in and it was a hard-earnt four points in the end.
“It was difficult to play any sort of flowing rugby out there.” he added. “We were trying to play to the corners and looked to find spaces, to use the wind in our favour. I’ve never seen the boys put in a shift like that.”
York: Taylor, Goss, Thompson, Barton, Cable; Martin, Gillespie; Lee, Chukwulobelu, Meyrick; Corner, O’Donnell; Suttle (c), Treanor, Davey
Replacements: Bates, Weale, Turner, Barry, Osgood, van Doorneward
Man of the Match: Alex Davey