Spirited rugby firsts suffer narrow defeat to Sheffield

BUCS Northern Conference 1A

Images: Agatha Torrance

A brave defensive performance was not enough to prevent the men’s rugby firsts going down 19-15 at the hands of Sheffield today.

In a close-fought encounter, the home side were undone by a late Sheffield try, as the visitors overtook the White Rose in the BUCS Northern Conference 1A.

Sheffield dominated territory for most of the game, and they started brightly, though without really looking like scoring.

And ten minutes in, York took the lead against the run of play.

In what was their first meaningful attack, good work from captain James Faktor in a scrum saw the ball fall to Hugo Watson, who sprayed a pass out to the left for Gabriel Adebiyi to go over in the corner.

Fly half Tomasz Chadwick was well short with his conversion however, leaving the score at 5-0.

The away side quickly reasserted their dominance of possession, but the York defence held firm for 15 minutes until a spectacular try levelled the scores.

Sheffield’s left-wing spun away from Will Sharp and hurdled three more challenges on his way to scoring; with their fly half kicking the extras, York now trailed 5-7.

Soon after, the gap was widened, as Sheffield’s fly half kicked a cross-field pass to the right and their lock ran over with ease, leaving the score at 5-12, with the resulting conversion missed.

That was how it stayed until half-time and York could have few complaints, with a deft pass from Chadwick that just eluded Will Sharp the closest they came to clawing back some points.

Moments after the restart York could have gone further behind.

First, a brilliant tackle from Will Ward prevented what looked to be a certain Sheffield try, before the home defence cleared after a huge ruck on the try-line.

And York’s resolute defending soon paid off, as Chadwick scored a penalty to make it 8-12 and put his side in with a chance of victory.

Yet more Sheffield pressure followed, but the York defence looked impenetrable at this point and the White Rose took a deserved lead midway through the second half.

Chadwick clipped a pass over the Sheffield defence, leaving Watson to skip past one challenge to score and, with Chadwick making the conversion, leave York with a three point lead.

Their euphoria was short-lived though, as yet another colossal ruck near the try-line this time resulted in a try and a successful conversion for Sheffield.

Knowing they only needed one try to win, York pressed forward in the closing stages, but driving runs from Sam Morrison and Conan Osborne came to nothing, leaving York to contemplate what was their second defeat of the season.

Despite the loss, York captain Faktor was proud of his side’s performance at full time: “I’m disappointed, but in rugby a good big team beats a good little team and today they just had a little bit more than we did. We played really well at times, our tackling was great and we gave everything – I’ve never come off the pitch with guys who’ve been more tired.”

He added, “They’re a slightly better side than us, but we’ll come back and be better. We can hold our heads high today, unlike the Leeds Met game where we knew we should have won.”

York: Paton, Morris, Mercer, Pampiglione, Walsh, Arnold, Gaskell, Faktor (C), Ward, Chadwick, Adebiyi, Pollen, Watson, Sharp, Bremner, Naidoo, Morrison, Osborne, Turner, Carr-Archer

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