Whitby Harlequins hosted an experienced Redcar team in a cup fixture at White Leys on a bitterly cold Saturday.
The Whitby team were rallied and anxious to get playing so a slightly earlier kick-off time was proposed.
Harlequins made their intentions clear, the kick was long and a member of the oppositions far larger pack caught the ball only to be clattered in the tackle. Whitby pressured their opponents and were not willing to be bullied by a more physical side.
The ball was turned over and Grason, following some skillful pick-and-goes, passed wide to Purves who cut back inside and following a mazy run through opposition forwards scored in the corner.
Quins went through a particularly poor few minutes with a few of the backs looking half-asleep.
Redcar capitalised on this and scored an opportunist try when the Whitby full-back failed to drop on a ball which had been kicked over his own tryline and was bundled out the way for Redcar to score.
The conversion in front of the posts was missed and the game remained tied.
Whitby restarted with a drop kick which was fielded well and possession was retained. When trying to mount an attack on the halfway line after a ball handling error, the pacey Redcar centre intercepted a pass intended for the Quins winger and scored under the posts. The conversion was successful.
Captain Joe Russell fired up the unseasoned Whitby team and following a few phases of ‘crash balls’ they found themselves camped on the opposition try-line. Mitchell Cannon tapped the penalty and wriggled in at the corner.
Josh Wilson carried the ball well all game and following a speedy run up the touchline, he set up a ruck. The ball was passed to Purves and with the opposition not yet assembled he broke the gain line and passed to Kaye who scored in the corner. A well struck conversion was successful and the Quins took a 17-10 lead.
The second half kicked off and with Whitby attacking uphill they did well to maintain a good field position spending most of the half in the oppositions 22, without scoring any points despite some devastating runs from Nathan Kaz and Ryan Vasey.
The opposition were throwing everything at Whitby’s young pack including some swinging arms.
The inexperienced pack were not fazed and continued to build more pressure. With some poor passing, scrums and line-outs were frequent but Whitby governed set piece situations and turned over most opposition ball.
Redcar defended well on their tryline and following a long kick downfield gained an advantageous position.
Whitby’s front five particularly dug deep and following a drive from Redcar forwards the ball was held up.
Eventually Redcar did cross and with a successful place kick the scores were tied.
Whitby assembled for an attack once more and were playing the better rugby of the two sides, however with fitness lacking, many players were deemed off-side near the breakdowns and a successful penalty from Redcar saw the game finish dramatically with Whitby losing by three points.
The Quins manager felt it was a game they deserved to win: “I was particularly impressed with the forwards who didn’t buckle under the pressure of a heavy pack and really stepped up to the mark.
“Ed Welford tormented his opposite number and won many scrums against the head at hooker. Lee Bryan and Tom Sidoway provided a good platform to work off and Luke Brown, Joe Russell, Connor Clements and Ryan Vasey were ferocious in open play.
“Scrum half Kyle Grason and Winger Josh Wilson tidied up a lot of scrappy ball well and put their bodies on the line.”
Man of the match: Nathan Kaz – newly-found fitness levels proved a vital asset to his game and he made several big carries and tackles.