Well, last week was cold with snow arriving in Sunny Oxenhope on Wednesday. Saturday saw frozen pitches, some teams with a welcome gap week anyway and others playing cup matches. Knowing there was to be a longish drive to York the following day ickledot opted for a short journey to Skipton to see them playing against fellow Yorkshire team, Ossett. While it was a first viewing of the club itself playing at this venue, a Yorkshire U20 team played here in February 2014 against Lancashire, ickledot's county photographing debut. Although both matches this weekend were high scoring, Skipton's was rather one sided as they ended up winning by 48 points to 5. Slightly flattering perhaps as Ossett enjoyed a good deal of possession. They just weren't able to convert this into real penetration and points.
I've chosen a midfield picture as a favourite from this game. As can be seen, the Skipton scrum half has managed to release the ball while being under a good deal of pressure as one of his team mates holds off an opposing front row with a somewhat unorthodox head lock. And yes, two sides playing in red with quite similar shirt designs does add to the confusion. You can see more pictures from the game here.
By Sunday the temperature had risen somewhat and, by time Yorkshire U20's encounter with top of group rivals - Northumberland - kicked off, it was almost warm. This was also a high scoring game, with Yorkshire emerging victorious by 39 points to 18. However, in this case the difference in score was fully justified. The home team was dominant for large stretches of the game with Northumberland threatening only intermittently. They clearly have the ability to play well and attack fluently but on this day there were too many errors on which Yorkshire were able to capitalise regularly. The points which gave Northumberland's tally a semblance of respectability were added long after the game had slipped their grasp.
Both sides now move on to the knock-out stages with Yorkshire having a vital home advantage for the following rounds. A favourite from this game features Yorkshire multiple try scorer Rob Rekis, whose pace played havoc with the Northumberland defence all afternoon. In many ways it's a regular running in; defenders floundering in his wake. What I like though, and I saw it changing through the viewfinder at the time, is his facial expression. At this point he's still got a few metres to go but his look, a half smile, is one of confidence that, barring an earthquake, he's going to score. and he did!
You can see more pictures from the game here. Have a great week!