FOLLOWING a hectic day’s travelling, Whitby Rugby Club’s juniors played their first game of their Portugal tour against host team Clube Rugby Arcos de Valdevez (CRAV) on a synthetic pitch in scorching afternoon heat - conditions far removed from their more accustomed Yorkshire winter.
With tremendous travelling support, the Maroons got off to a flying start.
From kick-off, they put in a sustained period of pressure which kept the home-side camped in their own 22, great driving runs from forwards Nathan Kaz, Bruce Reed, Luke Brown and Michael McCormack, continually questioning the defence.
Eventually, the pressure was rewarded when scrum-half Barney Fountain put in a superb chip over the CRAV full-back and outside centre Jack Cooper reacted the quickest to reclaim the loose ball to score the first points.
Inside centre Brad Coulman added the conversion from the touch-line, increasing Whitby’s lead to 0-7.
From the restart, CRAV began to exert their own pressure and it was not long before the significant size difference of the older opposition became apparent, with the the Maroons centres Coulman and Tom Woods having to put in big tackles to keep them at bay.
Having been adjudged offside at a ruck and struggling with the referee’s dialect, the visitors were caught out with a quick tap penalty, allowing the hosts through for their first converted try.
Soon afterwards a penalty gave CRAV a further three points to level the score.
With Whitby matching the Arcos forwards in the line-outs and scrums, the hosts soon realised their best attacks were going to be through the Maroons back-line and so it proved when their big number 13 banged through the middle for a converted try, concluding the first half at 17-10.
For the second half, coach Nick Bentley began to rotate the players as the heat started to take its toll.
Front rows Tom Locker and Jordan Samples made an instant impact, with Tom Woods and Ed Welford carrying on where they left off the first period, with their characteristic driving mauls.
However, once again, a misunderstanding with the referee allowed CRAV another Tap Penalty resulting in a further seven points.
As the game entered its final period, Whitby really had to dig deep to stay in this encounter, requiring some great cover tackling from Joe Russell and Jack Cooper.
To come back at this late stage, was too much to ask of the young Whitby side and although they put in a valiant performance, the final points went to Arcos, with the final score 31-10.
Although the result did not go Whitby’s way, the opening game proved a good lesson for the side.
They coped admirably with an unfamiliar synthetic pitch on a hot day and after a lot of travelling, never giving up until the final whistle.
Try: Jack Cooper; conversion: Brad Coulman; men of the match: Barney Fountain/Nathan Kaz.
Club Rugby Arcos de Valdevez 31 Whitby 10