Easter weekend and winter returned to Yorkshire in the shape of strong winds, grey skies, plunging temperatures and even snow. Snow in April. Just didn't seem right. Thankfully the white stuff hadn't yet arrived on Saturday but it had been raining continuously the previous night. Thus on my arrival at Pontefract there were mumblings about the game possibly not going ahead or moving to a second pitch.
In the end though it was decided to stick with the first team pitch, no doubt to the relief of spectators who preferred to watch from the relative warmth and shelter of the clubhouse or just outside it. Pontefract have had a wonderful season, finishing as champions of their league, Yorkshire Two. Today it was knockout in the cup - a semi-final for the Yorkshire Silver Trophy - and the opponents were Ripon. This was something of a coincidence for me as a) I'd been in Ripon only last Thursday and b) I'd photographed Pontefract only twice before (not counting a pre-season training session a couple of seasons ago) and opponents on one of those occasions were, you guessed it, Ripon.
Despite the sticky conditions this was an exciting game with a good deal of open running rugby. The home side began as strong favourites but thoughts of an easy win were quickly dispelled as Ripon raced to an early lead through a penalty try and no fewer than three penalties.
Playing up the slope towards the clubhouse, Pontefract made up some of the deficit with a try down the left hand side. However, Ripon still held the lead at the break.
There was something of a transformation in the second half as Pontefract began to exert their superiority in the forward line, demonstrating why they have been so dominant in their league throughout the season. A try from a break down the right was followed by another from a forceful scrum and all thoughts of defeat were banished. The final score was a convincing 29 point to 16. Pontefract will now play in the final of the Yorkshire Silver Trophy against Thornensians. Yorkshire RFU have not yet published a date or venue for this fixture.
Well done also to Ripon who kept on the offensive right until the final whistle. It must have been disheartening for them to lose replacement Richard Scull through a particularly nasty injury midway into the second half. I'd been speaking with Richard just before he went on as we knew each other from his Bradford & Bingley days. Really disappointing for him as he told me he'd only just recovered from another long term injury. I hope his latest isn't as serious as it looked and that he is soon on the road to recovery.
As it was so dark and dismal the pictures are quite grainy again this week. You can see more here.