A weekend away in sunny Lancashire was made even more pleasant with not one, not two but three Yorkshire victories over the old rival. ickledot can fill in a few details with two of the fixtures but you might be wondering about the third. This was rugby league, a match played on Sunday morning in Blackpool. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there but it was great to hear that Yorkshire came away with a 4-30 win.
On Saturday the men’s encounter took place at Fylde Rugby Club. I’ve not visited many clubs in Lancashire but I had been to this one almost exactly a year ago. The match that time had been Lancashire against Cheshire. The home side won and some of my pictures from the game were included in The Rugby Journal; a feature article about the Lancashire coach, Mark Nelson.
This time though I was photographing the visitors: Yorkshire. Still smarting from a single point home defeat to Cheshire, the worry amongst travelling supporters was that team spirit might not be rejuvenated enough to face a Lancashire side still hoping for yet another Twickenham final. Thankfully the whole squad was raring to go. A couple of them told me how much they were looking forward to getting into the action.
There’s a splendid match report on Fylde’s own website so I won’t go into too much detail. Although the final scores were quite different the ebb and flow of both the men’s and women’s games were quite similar. In both Yorkshire began well, Lancashire clawed their way back and Yorkshire managed to hold out for a win.
In the men’s game Lancashire never quite caught up but they were within a score and on the attack within minutes of the end. As the report says, a Lewis Minikin penalty finally sealed the Yorkshire win in the dying seconds of the game.
I’m sure all who witnessed the game would endorse Mark Nelson’s post match comment: “ … the standard and intensity was higher than most National league games which is a great credit to everyone involved in County rugby. So once again the RFU need to take heed when making decisions on funding.”
Following such a long period of Lancashire dominance and the years when the two sides didn’t play each other at all, it certainly felt good to have a Yorkshire win. Despite yet another year without a trip to Twickenham for the final, perhaps the groundwork has been done for that to happen in the near future. Well done to all concerned; you can see more pictures from the game in the ickledot shop.
I stayed over in Lancashire (big shout to The Birley Arms Hotel) so as to be close to the venue for Yorkshire women’s match at Leigh Rugby Club the following day. Yorkshire are the current county champions, following their success in the final last year. As has been proven many times, it’s always difficult to win a tournament for a second time and Lancashire were clearly out to make sure it didn’t happen.
However, it was Yorkshire who dominated the first half, racing to a three try advantage; 17 points without reply. This was despite the home side having periods of possession requiring a good deal of defensive activity on Yorkshire’s part. Lancashire finally broke through in the final minutes of the first half.
And with that, the game began to turn. With a strong pack that seemed to win most of the scrums, Lancashire’s pressure began to tell. Not only did they bring the score back to 17-17, they also looked like going on to win. It didn’t help that Yorkshire were down to thirteen players, having received two yellow cards, which reflected their desperation in defence.
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find a match report anywhere, which is a disappointment cos I never remember the finer detail of a game. Somehow Yorkshire managed to mount an attack, feeding the ball to the left where it was taken up by Lauren Bolger. Her run resulted in a try and it also began to turn the game back in favour of the white rose.
It also forced Lancashire into all out attack, leaving the inevitable gaps at the back. Further opportunities came Yorkshire’s way and they capitalised ruthlessly. Lauren Bolger scored another two tries (I think) and the final score was a rather flattering 17-32. Yorkshire had been given a scare and the women of Lancashire certainly deserve congratulations for being such worthy opponents.
So Yorkshire Women are off to Twickenham once more on 2 June. I missed the final last year due to holiday commitments but this year I’m determined to be there. You can see more pictures from this epic game here. Many congratulations to the Yorkshire Women’s squad. Thanks also to Fylde and Leigh Rugby clubs. A great welcome and hospitality from both, making both occasions truly special.