Pontefract RUFC defy injuries to close gap on top two
While most clubs were snowed off or faced waterlogged pitches, Pontefract were able to play their rugby union match at home to Beverley in Yorkshire One – and were delighted they got the game on.
A 22-3 victory saw the Moor Lane club quickly bounce back from defeat the previous week and boost their promotion prospects.
With their conquerors from the previous week, Old Crossleyans, losing 10-7 at mid-table Huddersfield YMCA, it turned into a doubly successful day as third-placed Pontefract are now back to just four points behind the Crocs in the table with a game at bottom of the table Bradford Salem next up this Saturday.
Ponte were made to work hard for their victory in cold and blustery conditions, but showed how much their game management has improved this season as they controlled possession despite playing against the elements in the first half.
The performance also showed they have some depth in playing talent as a number of regulars were missing.
To add to this they lost player-coach Craig Fawcett to injury early on after he was tackled from behind without the ball to stop a great try opportunity, after centre Andy Coleman had made a strong break.
The tackler was fortunate to avoid a yellow card and the hosts had to make a major reshuffle as they had no replacement backs on the bench.
Their scrum continued to be dominant, however, and Ponte opted to take them at every chance, taking time out of the game while playing into the wind.
From one scrum near the line number eight Callum Rogers appeared to touch down over the line, but the referee was blindsided and could not give the try.
This did not stop Ponte who battered the line with Bailly Matthews making some forceful drives. With the big lads unable to force their way over it was left to the slighter built fly-half Liam Kay to show how it was done as he took several would be defenders on his back in going over for the first try, which he converted.
Beverley hit back and put their first points on the board with a successful penalty, but were unable to make any further inroads into their deficit with the home team leading 7-3 at half-time.
With the wind at their backs Ponte were expecting to pull away from their opponents after the break, but it was tougher than they expected as they met line-out struggles and a Beverley side doing their best to keep the possession they had.
Their tactics led to a number of penalties being awarded against Pontefract and resulted in two yellow cards that further held up the hosts’ attempts to make progress.
But Ponte’s defence stayed strong and they never looked like conceding while down in numbers. When they managed to get some decent possession, they looked dangerous. A big drive from Tad Nyanjowa resulted in a penalty and Kay booted the ball between the points to stretch the home lead to seven points.
A try followed when Sam Millard’s drive paved the way for the backs to send full-back Richard Hossack charging for the line. Although he was held a yard short the ball was recycled for Rogers to pick up and drive over the line for a crucial try.
Ponte then made sure of their victory when Kay kicked through and Richard Dedicoat won the race to the ball before dribbling his way over for a try that was goaled by Kay.
They looked for a further try that would have brought a bonus point, but were unable to score again with Beverley happy to see the game out in the closing stages.
The victory was good reward, however, with Pontefract pleased to have come out the right side of the result with so many players missing.