Match number two of the weekend was a thriller of a different kind to the one seen at Harrogate a day earlier. ickledot was considering himself as most fortunate to witness this one as it had been scheduled for last weekend when he was in Scarborough. The extreme weather had taken a hand then, causing it and many other fixtures to be postponed and rearranged. So here we were on a bright Sunday, high clouds of a cotton wool kind and the sun shining for long periods throughout. With Keighley's 4G pitch looking as pristine as ever, we were hopefully set for an afternoon of open running rugby.
Playing away from the clubhouse (and the sun), Yorkshire took a while to get into gear and opponents Durham enjoyed a number of phases in attacking territory. However, this didn't last for long as the home side broke away and scored the first of many tries. I think it was down the left and away from where I was positioned. Second came one on the right, virtually down touchline, towards and then right across me.
From then Yorkshire scored tries at regular intervals throughout the game as Durham became starkly aware of the strength they were up against along with their own inability to either defend against it or mount counter attacks of their own.
The try above shows the strength of the Yorkshire forwards in the scrum. The ball was pushed forward quite a long way, slowly, until it gently rolled over the line. Seemed to take an age for number 8 Zak Poole to reach backwards and do no more than touch it for the score to be registered. It felt like everyone was frozen!
I quickly lost track of the points tally but managed to nab the scoreboard controller as he was just packing away his numbers at the end of the game. Though his digits were now back in their box, he was able to recall a final score of 76-15.
This actually says something about Durham's persistence; though overwhelmed for much of the game they were actually able to get over the line twice for the last scores of the day (I think). Finalists with Yorkshire less than a year ago, giving a really good account of themselves on that day, if they are now in a period of rebuilding, their determination is certainly unquestioned and very much intact.
Well done to Yorkshire for an excellent entertaining display. They now move on to a quarter final so there's still much work to do and complacency cannot be afforded. Many thanks to those people who have bought a download memory or two of the day. If you've not had a look already there are more pictures from the game here.
I don't know what it's like to play on Keighley's 4G pitch and how it compares to traditional grass but its carpet-like surface certainly contrasted markedly with the heavy conditions at Harrogate. I've photographed several games on this pitch now so have begun to notice how it can have an effect on the light.
As hinted above, it is positioned east to west so the path of the sun is more or less from one end to the other. With the clocks changing to summer time on Saturday, the sun was high as the game kicked off at 3pm but it still had a definite direction, putting the Yorkshire players coming towards me very much in shadow. It was interesting how the sun's rays also reflected off the playing surface, causing it to 'shine' more brightly than regular grass, I think. This had a weird effect on some pictures, particularly when a player had the sun directly behind him. I wonder whether any other photographers have encountered this when photographing sport on such pitches. This is an observation rather than criticism - overall it's great that so many games can take place almost continuously, often when matches elsewhere have been postponed.