W/E 11th Feb - Beverley rugby union match reportThu 16th February 2023
Saturday 11th February - OLD RISHWORTHIAN 33 v BEVERLEY 39
Eight straight wins and still counting. In some respects this was as good as any of them. With five enforced changes and several key players missing this was always going to be tough afternoon. Old Rishworthian is never an easy place to go to but Beverley with a liberal smattering of young colts in the side came up trumps with a fine win. Overall they probably had rather less of the play but they made better use of their chances through utilising their superior flair and speed.
They got off to the perfect start when a long Luke Hazell kick upfield bounced kindly for winger Archie Harwood who hacked on and beat the defence in the race for the touchdown. Rob Smith converted and Beverley were on their way. Two converted Rishworthian tries then swung the game the home side’s way and after twenty minutes they were leading 14-7.
Beverley responded with some slick interplay between Smith and Hazell which brought a converted try in the corner to level it up and Beverley then re-took the lead with a Smith penalty to go 14 - 17 up at the break.
It looked likely at that stage that the lead would continue to alternate until the end but a ten minute Beverley blitz at the start of the second half put a completely different complexion on things. The half was only two minutes old when Jockey Holmes waltzed through the home defence from thirty metres to score a lovely individual try which Smith converted.
Rishworthian responded strongly with renewed vigour but twice came unstuck when close to the Beverley line. First they lost the ball to Hazell who set off down the wing, outpacing the defence and running nearly the length of the field for a converted fourth Beverley try. Secondly, from an almost identical position Smith made an interception and raced clear to the other end to touch down for a fifth. The score had gone from 14-17 to 14-36 in less than ten minutes.
At 14 - 36 the lead should have been unassailable but memories were reignited of last year’s visit when from a similar position Beverley let it slip for the game to end 36 all. With over a quarter of the match still to go the difference in muscle between the two sets of forwards was also starting to tell. Beverley were a good deal more lightweight particularly after they lost Mike Melhuish who had to leave the field with an injury. Rishworthian threw everything at them and the weightier home forwards eventually drove over for a converted try to reduce the lead.
A drive into the corner brought them another to cut the lead to ten points and at 26-36 with a quarter of an hour to go it was all getting a bit edgy. But the Beverley tackling was solid with all the young colts giving it everything. The pack was playing with great spirit, Jack Houseman in particular rampaging about and Beau Easter having another impressive day at wing forward. Rishworthian were getting plenty of possession but could not find the penetration to breach a determined defence.
The match headed towards an increasingly thrilling finish. Five minutes from time Rishworthian made it even more tense with a try in the corner from a penalty line-out. At 33-36 another score could have won them the game but they were kept out and in the dying minutes Smith kicked a penalty to see Beverley safely home.
So Beverley continue hot on the heels of Keighley in second place in Yorkshire One and with two home games coming up will hope to further close in on them.
Next week they meet Roundhegians followed a week later by the visit of leaders Goole which should make for a lively encounter. The important thing for Beverley now is not to let the splendid form they are showing start to slip.