Old Rishworthians ran out of steam – and players – in the last 10 minutes of yesterday’s 20-8 defeat at Pontefract and their chance of a losing bonus point disappeared in appalling conditions.
In Arctic temperatures, with a biting icy wind and later freezing rain, Rishworthians held the home side until injuries left them with 13 men and they finally caved in to Pontefract pressure.
Player-coach Chris Stone praised the determination and spirit of his men, who led the home side 8–5 at half-time and defended brilliantly until a lack of numbers allowed Pontefract to make the breakthrough they had been seeking for most of the game.
Indeed both teams deserved admiration for their play in what Stone described as “the worst conditions I have ever played in.”
As player after player went off injured, it finally ended with uncontested scrums and Rishworthians’ resistance ran out.
The Yorkshire One game started as expected with the home side spreading the ball wide and only a fine tackle by newcomer Jordan Bloem, son of former player-coach Jamie, prevented a try.
Soon after, though, Pontefract went ahead with an unconverted try after a missed tackle in midfield.
Rishworthians came back and Josh Kelly reduced the arrears with a penalty.
The visitors had to clear their lines time and time again and one high kick from Kelly proved difficult to hold and young scrum half George Wright gathered the ball and sprinted over. Kelly added the conversion.
He had an opportunity to increase the lead using the gale with a penalty from inside his own half, but it drifted just wide.
The second half saw Rishworthians facing an ever strengthening sub-Arctic gale and the onset of driving rain.
Early in play a stray pass saw Pontefract kick ahead and Wright was there to save a try, but soon after the scores were level with a home penalty.
Rishworthians saw hardly any possession for the rest of the game, but time after time they kept the home side out and it was a tribute to their discipline that they incurred very few penalties.
With No 8 Gareth Burns running the show for Pontefract, three times they got over the line, but three times they were held up.
Players started to go down injured and still the visitors held out, but inevitably cold hands led to the ball being dropped by both sides. However, one drop by the visitors saw the ball regathered, leading to a converted try to rob them of what would have been a richly deserved losing bonus point.
Stone was thankful that the next game is not until January 5, when Rishworthians face Guisborough. “We need the three weeks rest and a chance to get some of our injured players back,” he said.