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11-try thriller tests the nerves


WITHERNSEA RUFC played their first home game of the season against Barton, following a closely fought away win at Scunthorpe the previous week.

The visitors, as per usual, had a hefty pack with two props both weighing in at over 20 stone. Withernsea, however, were strong in the scrum, with technique proving to be just as important as size.

The first ten minutes saw Barton using their big lads to drive the ball in from around the breakdowns, but Withernsea’s defence was solid, as it had been against Scunthorpe. After pressure following good home tackling, Barton spilled the ball and Ryan Atkinson reacted quickly to pop the ball to Dan Wardman, who went around the Barton defence to open the scoring.

A second try was not long in coming and it was a fantastic team try. After good ball from the forwards, the ball went through the hands of every single back before Dylan Harman cleverly chipped through to turn the remaining defence around. Atkinson again was first to the ball and he returned it to Harman, who added the finishing touches for a 14-0 lead, with both tries converted.

Withernsea continued to soak up Barton pressure and hit them on the break with their pace, which was too much for the visitors to handle. From a John Harrison kick, the Barton full-back ran the ball back, but was well stopped by Wardman. As the full-back tried to pass inside, it all went wrong and Wardman pounced to claim the ball and score from 50 metres out, for his second and Withernsea’s third try.

Barton temporarily stemmed the tide with a good response from their forwards, whose pressure paid off with their first try, following good recycling and Withernsea just running out of defenders.

Withernsea, however, were not knocked out of their stride for long and were soon back on the scoreboard. Ethan Wilson put in an accurate wide pass to Mike Penny, who linked with Wardman on the wing. He in turn drew his man and returned the ball to Penny to score from long range for the home team.

The fifth try of the game saw Penny and Wardman combining well again following a big pass from Harman, which opened up the gap for Penny to loop round and score.

At 31-7 up for the home team at halftime, it looked like the second half could be a rout, playing now with the advantage of the slope. Things did not turn out as planned, however, as Barton mounted a sustained and spirited fightback. Barton kept the ball and attacked well. With a big gain in territory, much of it within five metres of Withernsea’s line, it was hard to keep Barton’s heavier players at bay, and the visitors ran in one try after another to bring the score unbelievably back to 31-31 as the game went into the final quarter.

At this point Withernsea could have folded, but instead they steadied the ship and started to get their hands on the ball and play in the areas they wanted to. It was from another loose ball that Penny pounced, as he tidied up well and went around the remaining defence to score under the posts. Wilson converted, to leave the home team one try to the good. The last ten minutes saw Barton look for the equaliser, but Withernsea had rediscovered their mettle and were able to defend strongly and see the game out until the final whistle with the score at 38-31.

This was a very satisfying, yet frustrating, five-point win, with the four-try bonus in the bag. This will consolidate Withernsea’s position at the top of the league as other fixtures started to kick in this weekend. Many thanks to match ball sponsor, Mally Ives of Garth Pheasants of Hollym, to Graham Marshall for providing a meat raffle and to James Kirkwood for donating the paint for the container. The game next week is away at Ionians Ramblers.

The Holderness Gazette - Serving News to the Holderness Region