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In recent years, York have definitely had the edge over Lancaster’s men in Rugby Union. Unfortunately, this trend continued in 2015 with the 1sts, 2nds and 3rds all losing.
The 1sts match was the final event at Roses, arguably billed to be one of the best Roses events. With the crowd that turned up, it was easy to see why, as both teams had hundreds of supporters. York clearly outnumbered Lancaster’s following, but that was to be expected.
Lancaster kicked us off at 4pm, and faced immediate pressure from York. It seemed inevitable after just 5 minutes that York would be the first team to register on the score sheet. Scrum after scrum edged York closer to the Lancaster try line, and this paid off on 13 minutes when they grounded and converted. Lancaster had a chance to counter back with a penalty 2 minutes later, however Eliot Burton failed to kick over for 3 points.
Lancaster were made to rue this missed opportunity when York broke through the Lancaster defensive line and made no mistake in messing up this 2-on-1 opportunity, York’s 13 scoring a converted try to make it 14-0. Lancaster’s defence held up well from the continuing York pressure, however they were unable to make any meaningful ground from kicks to touch.
A penalty try for York meant they went into the break at the half-time whistle. But just before the whistle, Lancaster had a try held up after impressive work by Dom Lane making up 25 yards. But the sustained pressure on the York try line was countered by equally determined Yorkshire defence, so Lancaster remained scoreless.
Only 3 minutes into the second half, York made it 28-0 with a simple kick down the left flank for their winger to latch onto a put down. Will Field also impressed, but was one of many players from both teams to lose their footing on the slippery pitch when embarking on a charge. Lancaster finally got points on the board after scrappy play on the York tryline, and Ike Ekweremadu Jr scored shortly after to make the score 28-12, the high winds making the second try too difficult to convert.
York scored a penalty to give them a 31-12 advantage, and this would remain until the final whistle. Despite Lancaster arguably controlling the second half, it was not to the extent that York did in the first 40 minutes. Their defence split too often, whereas York were rarely caught off guard. A disallowed try for York was the final highlight of the match, quietening the rapturous applause that originally followed it.
The crowd quickly erupted again as the final whistle blew, as York completed another whitewash, something their 3rd team said “is all that matters.” Considering the 2nds and 3rds matches shared 5 sin bins between them, the finale was a well-disciplined affair. This arguably meant the game failed to live up to its billing, with York having already wrapped up Roses comprehensively and the game being very stop-start in the centre of the pitch.
The score line may have flattered York, but it they deserved to win rather than Lancaster deserving to lose. The only difference was that York made the most of their opportunities. If certain kicks and decisions went the opposite way, the momentum could have easily switched.
The 3rd team fared poorly as well, and similarly to the 1st team, improved vastly in the second half. York won 17-0 to take 1 Roses point. They opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes and scored a penalty shortly after. The game lacked quality, the main highlight being York’s number 10 pushing past the Lancaster props and knocking the referee in the process. Lancaster improved in the second half as the sun began to shine, but they were still not good enough to ground for 5 points. Murray was Lancaster’s good player, even gathering praise from the York sideline. But York were able to score again, making it 17-0. Similar to many of Lancaster’s performances in multiple sports on Saturday, they lacked any consistency and were often too slow in the first half. Lancaster didn’t deserve to finish scoreless, but that’s the way it is sometimes. Anyone else fancy revenge next year?