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Gritty Skipton take pride in win
10:44am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in Sport
Skipton 17 Old Grovians 12
Skipton produced a performance full of pride, commitment, determination, team spirit and resolute defence to secure a Yorkshire Division Three victory at Sandylands.
It meant that former Reds coach Martin Whitcombe and his well-funded Woodhouse Grove former pupils’ side, left empty handed.
Disrupted by the late withdrawal, through injury, of outside centre Lee Shaw and, through work commitments of first choice goal-kicker and full back Jeremy Hargreaves, the home side had to hastily reshuffle their back line.
Flanker Josh Beck was drafted in at centre, scrum-half Alex Baldwin moved to full-back and took over the kicking duties, while veteran Adam Oldfield moved up from the bench to slot in at scrum-half.
The unfamiliar back line took some time to gel and were further disrupted after only ten minutes by the withdrawal of potent winger James Tomlinson with a hamstring strain to be replaced by the ever-reliable Andy Maclean.
A new-found confidence is emerging in the forwards, and the return of Sam Harrison at No8 has been key to that.
His customary hard drives at the heart of the opposition defence has made Skipton’s pack look a menacing unit.
Second row Jonathan Gane improves with every match and Chris Wright marked his best game so far this season with some storming runs.
Flankers Ben Hall and Charlie Brown caused havoc throughout the game with their aggressive play, whilst no-nonsense Rick Willsher time and again attacked the visitors’ line.
Prop-turned-hooker Chris Lambert was to the fore in much of the play and he provided the final pass for prop John Firth to cross the whitewash for a well-worked try wide out which was converted by Baldwin for a 7-0 lead.
The visitors re-grouped and finally put some rugby together to score a converted try after 30 minutes. An unfortunate slip by the Reds late in the half allowed the visitors to score a breakaway try to establish a 12-7 half –time lead.
The second half started well with Skipton playing all the rugby and forcing errors from Old Grovians. They were punished for their lack of defensive capability when the backs put together a move that released speed merchant James Ackers who coasted in at the posts for a try which Baldwin converted.
A further penalty from Baldwin gave the Reds a five-point margin which they clung onto until the end of the game with resolute defence.
One on one tackles had to be made time and again as the visitors mounted a concerted effort to rescue the game.
The last ten minutes saw no respite for Skipton as Grovians camped within ten metres of the line. The thin Red line stayed intact with big hits coming in from Miff Smith, Josh Beck and substitute Shaun Barraclough, while the walking wounded Alex Baldwin, Adam Oldfield and Chris Lambert all stood firm.
The final whistle blew to the sheer relief of the partisan crowd, players and coaches alike. A hard-earned and deserved victory will stay in the memory of captain Darren Howson and his men as they look to continue to climb the Yorkshire Three table.
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