What weather we’ve been having here in the UK for the past week or so; much sun and blue skies with record temperatures for February, often the coldest, bleakest month. So, if you’re looking at ickledot’s photos of the two matches covered last weekend you’d be forgiven for thinking they were played in May.
Saturday brought a trip to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. More of that in tomorrow’s post but we’ll begin with Sunday: a second trip of the season to the home of Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club for Yorkshire Under 20s opening fixture against Lancashire.
Though the weather was glorious there was tension in the air for Yorkshire. Not only was their opener away from home, opponents Lancashire had already played a couple of games. Pressure mounted further with the news that a key member of the coaching staff had been caught up in the weekend traffic and not able to make their squad’s warm up session.
It seemed that any worry was completely unfounded as the white rose ramblers raced into a two try lead. I’ve written before how succeeding generations of the county’s under 20s have been drilled to begin games with speed and intensity, before opponents have been able to settle. It certainly seemed to have worked this time.
However, Lancashire had other ideas and began to claw their way back into contention, first with a penalty and then a couple of tries. Forward strength and good team work certainly paid dividends for them in the latter stages of the first half. The situation looked bleak for Yorkshire, particularly as they’d been pushed back from promising attacking situations for two of the scores. The red rose was certainly in the ascendancy at the half time whistle.
Whatever was discussed during the break and whatever changes were made, they certainly had an effect. The threat from the Lancashire pack was minimised and Yorkshire’s backs began to make an impression on the game. First there was a try down the right to regain the lead and then a penalty try which really brought the impetus back to Yorkshire.
It forced Lancashire to open up and attack, thus leaving gaps in defence on which Yorkshire capitalised. Though Lancashire were able to score again the lead was never really threatened in the closing minutes of the game. Final score was 35-25 to Yorkshire - deserved though it perhaps masks just how tough the struggle was and how well Lancashire played. You can see more pictures from the game here.
Well done to this latest crop of Yorkshire players in the Under 20 age group. I’ve deliberately avoided mention of previous successes at this stage as there’s so much of the campaign to go. A great start though. It’s Cheshire next, towards the end of March.