Bradford Salem 8-13 Beverley RUFC
After a bruising encounter last week at top of the table Middlesbrough, where Beverley represented themselves well, but didn’t bring back any points, an away trip to bottom of the table Bradford Salem looked an easier fixture, but there are no easy fixtures in Yorkshire one when you’re going through a transitional phase with the team and under a new head coach. That head coach, Craig Hancock, was very pleased at the end of the afternoon having had a hard-fought battle with the home team who were looking for their third consecutive victory at home. Earlier in the season, this was the kind of game that Beverley would have lost, indeed reminiscent of the defeat at Goole, but it is testimony to the coach and players that tactically Beverley played a Better game, to secure the win 8 – 13.
This was a tough end to end game, played at 0° and with errors from both sides but the tense nature of the game left all of the supporters on the edge of the seats (if indeed there had been seats). Eight minutes in and after a period of sustained pressure Bradford were able to crash over the Beverley line, at the same time injuring young Louis Frear, lock forward who was returning from injury, but was unable to play any further part in the game after a nasty knee injury. The goal was unconverted, and then it was Beverley’s turn to apply some pressure, which resulted in a converted Phil Duboulay penalty kick, 5 – 3 to Salem, but Beverley were gaining some momentum, the forward pack were dominant throughout the match which was testimony to Sean Jenny, Andy Meagher, Danny Morris, Mark Hodgson and Gavin Jenny who replaced the injured Louis Frear. This dominance was complemented by Phil Duboulay’s tactical kicking game, which was a deliberate strategy set out before the game, and a contributing factor in the end result. A tense first half finished with both teams having had periods of pressure that couldn’t be further converted into points, 5 – 3 at the whistle.
The second half was equally thrifty with points but started with an incident that could have significantly swung the balance in favour of the home team. Mark Meluish (Beverley no.8) was served a red card from the referee for what looked to be a poor tackle and a clash of heads at worse, however the referee saw it differently and Beverley now had to play the second half with 14 men. On a relatively small pitch, this seemed to open up a little bit of space for the playmakers in the Beverley team, Joey Franklin, Phil Duboulay and Rob Smith, and Beverley was somewhat galvanised from the apparent injustice. The game opened up little for both teams, Beverley’s backs were able to capitalise more than their opponents, however more often than not the final pass or catch went to ground when it was needed. On 60 minutes the play of the game came from a Joey Franklin break, connecting with Dan Lee on the wing to make 60 yards, from the subsequent breakdown the ball was spread wide to the right wing were Jacob Baggs was able to finish brilliantly in the corner, after a beautifully floated pass from Rob Smith. Duboulay converted from the touchline, and Beverley had the lead for the first time in the game 5 – 10 to the visitors.
10 minutes later a penalty for an infringement at the ruck gave Duboulay the opportunity to make the score difference more than a converted try, which he duly dispatched 5 – 13. The home team were certainly not beaten, and with 12 minutes to go still pushed themselves up the field and put pressure on the Beverley line which paid dividends when they converted a penalty and gave them hope of stealing a victory in the last few minutes when the score moved to 8 – 13. The pressure was intense but the kicking game from man of the match Phil Duboulay relieve the pressure and saw Beverley secure only their second away win of the season.
This was not Beverley’s best performance, but it was a committed performance away from home and with one man down for half the game, and that man have been having a good game for the Beavers. The tactical awareness, forward dominance and determination from the team to get the right result was pleasing for all of the supporters to admire. The players enjoyed their well-earned post-match curry – when in Bradford! The progress throughout Beverley’s rollercoaster season is there to be seen on a day like this. West Leeds at home next week 2.15 kick-off, come along and enjoy the ride!