After two messy performances from the York Seconds and Thirds, it was up to UYRUFC Firsts to restore pride in the York badge.
As the team ran onto the pitch, led by Captain Ed Suttle, inventive and inspiring cheers of “Yorkshire” rang out from the York supporters, dwarfing the lacklustre efforts of their Lancaster counterparts who looked almost as miserable as the dreary afternoon weather.
The game started in typically slow style for York, with a dropped kick off from Ed “Giggles” Clothier leading to huge Lancaster pressure on the York line.
After a couple of strong scrums from the Cats, the York defence gave way and conceded the first points of the game, allowing Lancaster to touch down in the corner.
The following conversion clattered off the post but it was clear that York would have to pick up their game if they were to stand a chance of winning. The first half remained fairly even, with numerous scrums stopping the game from gaining any momentum, however the York defence was put under extreme pressure after Giggles was sin-binned for repeated infringements in the ruck on his own line.
After escaping their own line without dropping any points thanks to some outstanding tackling from the York open side flanker, Rob “chopper” Turner and Captain Suttle, Ewan Gillespie controlled the game well at 9, but York were unable to put any points on the board, meaning that the match arrived at half time with the score 5-0 to the home side.
After a rousing team talk, York came out for the second half all guns blazing. Fly half Matty Barton steered his kicks into the Lancaster corners with the precision of a steady surgeon and York managed to turn territory into points through the delicate right boot of Oli Morgan to make the score 5-3, as poor discipline from the aggressive Lancaster defence resulted in a York penalty and a sin-bin for the very average Lancaster 12.
The momentum was now with York who had a try held up over the line after a questionable decision from the referee. Another penalty from Morgan sent the black and gold into a 6-5 lead, but Lancaster hit back to make it 8-6.
With the clock counting down the tension was now tangible but York managed to keep their heads with some big drives from the York powerhouses of Harvey Corner and Alex Davies which helped them work into the Lancaster half.
Gillespie took a quick tap penalty and made a piercing run to keep his team moving forward; it was now or never for York, and with the pressure mounting on the tired Lancaster defence, the referee signalled a penalty advantage to York.
It was at this point that a moment of magic happened, one of the most climactic ends to any Roses fixture ever. Gillespie passed the ball to Barton who paused, looked up and went for the drop goal.
The ball appeared to travel in slow motion as it sailed through the posts, and as the referee raised his arm to signal the kick was good and the end of the game, the realisation sunk in that York had won.
The supporters hurdled the barriers and ran ecstatically onto the pitch to rejoice with their teammates and friends, celebrating an outstanding performance and fine win. Even though York lost Roses overall, the win in the final event of the tournament proved why York are by far the better university.
The camaraderie of UYRUFC is commendable, from the support of the stand filled with team members to the players on the pitch. The game highlighted why the club is so well established and provided the best possible conclusion for the away supports to a tumultuous weekend.
York’s wins in the Opening and Closing ceremonies were as bold as they were stylish, and cemented the effort of the entire White Rose contingent over the course of the three days.
The Women’s Football and Men’s Rugby teams – two of campus’ best clubs – alike embodied the spirit of the competition, and made sure the York end consistently had something to chant about, in spite of the overall scoreline.