Champions!

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York 16

Pocklington 27

In front of a big contingent of their appreciative and noisy fans, Pocklington wrapped up their triumphant Yorkshire One campaign with a satifying win at local rivals, York – their 18th successive league victory.

Down the hill in torrential rain, York showed first. But Yara-sponsored Pocklington made some big early tackles to soon take play to the other end. Flanker Jack Holbrough burst over by the left flag before play was brought back to give Pocklington a penalty. They duly kicked it to the corner and the Pock pack drove to the line for skipper and prop Mat Webber to get the touchdown and give his side a sixth minute lead.

York replied four minutes later with an angled penalty goal, before Pocklington produced some excellent offloading rugby to pull away again. Scrum half Ben Rees broke round the tail of a lineout 40 yards out then popped the ball back inside to his forwards who charged up the middle for No 8 Dan Wilson to smash over at the side of the posts, Charlie Allen converting. York were no mean opponents, coming into the game in fifth place having won nine of their last 12 matches, and they came again to once more close the gap with a well-struck penalty.

Both sides lost a man to the sin bin, and a number of handling errors followed in the greasy conditions. Pocklington fullback Allen had dealt efficiently with a variety of kicks over the top from York, but when he miscued a volley it fell perfectly for the home wing who raced clear from halfway, the breakaway try making it 11-12 on the half hour. Pock wing Billy Hardy took them back to within sight of the York line and the forwards galvanised themselves for another catch and drive, but York disrupted the lineout, Pocklington were penalised and there was still one point in it at the break.

Down the hill, Pocklington’s pack turned the screw in the second half. Twelve minutes in, the Pock forwards were pressing in the left corner when York were penalised for tipping a lineout and had the offender binned. Pocklington opted for the scrum and shunted the home fowards back for Wilson to crash in for a pushover try, the conversion attempt falling just under the bar. Karl Durkin ran back the restart as Pocklington straightaway resumed the offensive and camped in York’s 22.

Jack Holbrough came off with a cut eye and Webber was replaced, but Pocklington maintained the momentum. Lock Tom Peters was almost through with a good break on the left then the last pass was dropped in midfield after more slick offloads had opened up the defence. Wing Dan Pickard and replacement lock James Wilkinson led a surge up the middle before Hardy was tackled into touch just short.

Pocklington stole the lineout and were initially held by the home pack, but they regrouped to thrust hooker Dave Birch over for their fourth try. Allen again converted, then added a straightforward penalty from a scrum drive after Durkin and Jake Bishop had threatened down the flanks.

The heavy rain made running rugby difficult and Pocklington made some good midfield breaks in the later stages with Joe Holbrough, Bishop and Allen all showing good pace and an eye for the gap. But holding on to the ball became more and more difficult in the cold and wet and Pocklington’s admirable attempts to keep the ball alive failed to get a reward. Nevertheless, they remained in control, with the pack claiming successive scrums against the head and prop John-Paul Kelly making a battering ram run down the right.

York, who occasionally threatened on the flanks, finally broke out of defence to complete the scoring. The home eight took their chance from a lineout catch and drive of their own and got the touchdown in the left corner.

Pocklington went back on to the attack for the closing minutes before the final whistle brought the close to a marvellous season and set up a big night of celebration around York.