Wetherby 22-25 Beverley

The first game of the 22/23 season kicked off for Beverley RUFC away at newly promoted Wetherby RUFC, so the Beavers were unsure what their opponents had to offer. It was the first time that they had ever played in Yorkshire Division One and wanted to put in a fine performance in memory of lifelong member Jerome Connolly. They did just that, on a scorched very hard playing surface both teams playing well and putting their bodies on the line, thankfully without injuries, an exciting game that saw the Beavers run out victors 22-25.

The game was played in good spirits, with no cards or scuffles of note and was well-refereed by East Yorkshire’s Simon Franks. Although Beverley started strongly the early pressure didn’t create any points, pressure swung in both directions throughout the match, but it was Wetherby that opened the scoring with a fine break along the left wing for an unconverted try on 17 mins. The arm wrestle continued, on 36 mins Captain Rob Smith kicked his first of many penalty kicks for the Beavers this season. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Jacob Baggs who looked dangerous all afternoon was able to break the tackle line and offload to the supporting Jack Housman, who finished under the posts for an easy Smith conversion. 5-10 at the halfway mark.

The tense game just got edgier in the second half and the many supporters from both teams were unsure how this game was going to conclude. A holding on penalty was well converted by the home team on 48 mins, 8-10, and then on 50 mins one of the plays of the game. Mike Melhuish who was a thorn in the side of Wetherby all afternoon was able to draw in tacklers and get an excellent pop pass offload to the speed merchant Ben Woodhouse who was running a great line to see him finish from 40 yards under the posts and duly converted by Smith, 8-17. Seven minutes later a knock-on play advantage was pounced upon by Beavers Full Back Luke Hazell, who’s acceleration through the broken line opened up the space for Woodhouse to claim his second long-range finish of the afternoon, this time in the corner and narrowly unconverted, 8-22.

It wasn’t a comfortable finish by any means, with 10 mins to go the home team’s fly-half was able to ghost through the Beverley defence and finish under the post, 15-22. Rob Smith settled any nerves with a fine penalty kick from a wide angle, which proved to be the winning margin and absolutely the right decision as Wetherby had one last try in them on the stroke of full-time, converted, and then the referee blew his final whistle. The travelling Beverley fans (missing Mr Dean – get well soon Kev) were very happy and the home fans were not too disconsolate, given it was a fine first performance operating at the dizzy heights of level seven rugby.

Beverley are without the service of the talismanic leader Phil Duboulay this season and tight head prop and powerhouse Dany Morris, and continuing the transformation that started under the stewardship of Head Coach Craig Hancock and assistants Steve Girking, Rob Smith and Simon Cowling. There has been a proactive marketing and recruitment campaign across the summer seeing 9 new senior signings. Toby Scoffin had a good run out on his debut, and the man of the match went to Ben Woodhouse, but all the Beverley players put in a big effort, well done all. Next week away again for the 1st XV at Bradford and a first run out for the 2nd XV away at Bridlington.

Brian Gilbert