Having thrashed Scarborough in the Yorkshire Shield before Christmas, Bridlington came to Silver Royd for the second time in a month and snatched a late league victory with a try in the ninth minute of injury time following a close-fought game.
Playing in bitterly cold conditions but on a pitch perfect for rugby, the visitors had the better of the early exchanges, however when Scarborough won possession and Bridlington infringed, fly-half Tom Harrison kicked his side 3-0 ahead with the resulting penalty from the visitors’ 10 metre line with only three minutes on the clock.
Having been pushed off their own ball at an early scrum, Scarborough swopped tight-heads and with a secure platform began to win enough clean ball to pose a threat keeping things tight. However, a lack of control near the visitors’ line and a reluctance to vary things and get their wide players into the game saw solid Bridlington defence prevail.
The men from Dukes Park had plenty of attacking action also with prop Ntsikayomzi Daka, flanker Ali Sutton, full-back Gareth Roberts and scrum-half Otis Floyd impressing.
Handling was not easy in the arctic conditions and when a Bridlington move broke down just inside their own half and they infringed, Harrison kicked the long-distance penalty for a 6-0 Scarborough lead in the 29th minute.
An extended period of Scarborough pressure wide left within inches of the Bridlington line eventually came to nothing due to a combination of lack of composure by the home side and committed Bridlington defence.
The sin-binning of hooker Taylor Smith and scrum half Martin Robinson five minutes before half time saw Scarborough having to defend in depth and they took their 6-0 lead to the break.
Starting the second half with only 13 men Scarborough needed to sharpen their focus and concentrate for about five minutes until their ranks were restored to full strength and they did start purposefully, but an ‘after you Claude’ moment in their midfield saw the ball spilled and from the resulting Bridlington possession, centre Ryan Girking scampered in from 20 metres in the 44th minute. Fly half Tom Kemp nudged the visitors 7-6 ahead with his conversion.
A ding-dong battle ensued as both sides looked for a score that would turn the game. Scarborough skipper Tom Ratcliffe sliced through the visiting midfield in the 51st minute but his diagonal run and pass squeezed the space for wing Harry Domett who was bundled into touch near the corner flag.
Scarborough continued to press and following forward pressure on the Bridlington line flanker Eamon Chapman barged over wide on the right for 11-7 in the 58th minute. Harrison made a good fist of his conversion attempt but missed narrowly.
The fourth quarter saw antirational stuff from both sides with very little use of either back division. Scarborough were camped on the visitors’ line wide on the right between the 63rd and 66th minutes but failed to make inroads as their shivering backs begged for service.
The men from Silver Royd then inexplicably swapped props again in the 70th minute and struggled in the tight-five from there on in. They had to withstand a series of punishing rucks and mauls on their own line as Bridlington went for a match-winning try going into injury time.
Their defending was magnificent but they lost possession at a couple of defensive scrums handing the initiative back to the visitors.
The game seemed to be over in the eighth minute of injury time when the visitors were penalized in front of the Scarborough posts for obstruction and the ball was cleared to touch.
However the game continued and with what proved to be the last move of the match, Scarborough were penalized in front of their own posts and the ball was moved swiftly right for wing Will Davies to squeeze over in the corner.
The conversion was missed but referee Carl Walsh blew for time and a narrow but deserved Bridlington win.