Rugby – Yorkshire One
Pocklington cemented third place in Yorkshire One with a hard-fought victory at home to their nearest rivals, Keighley.
After going behind to an early Keighley penalty, Yara-sponsored Pocklington responded with two well-taken tries to go 14-3 ahead. It stayed that way for an hour as Pocklington dominated territorially but failed to turn some good positions into a score.
The sides swapped penalties inside the last ten minutes, but Keighley seldom threatened until deep into injury time and Pocklington will be disappointed that the visitors were allowed to grab a last-gasp try to snatch a losing bonus point.
It was clear it was going to be a no-holds-barred contest as Keighley’s big, abrasive forwards took the game to Pocklington from the start and were matched by equally-committed home pack play. Keighley opened the scoring with a fourth minute penalty before Pocklington hit back with two excellent tries. They took a lineout off the top, 40 yards out. Centre Tim Nixon made the initial midfield break then dragged a couple of tacklers another few yards up the middle, the pack took it on and scrum half Ben Rees burrowed over at the side of the posts, Nick Bennett converting.
Soon after, Pocklington fly half Henry Mitchell kicked a long penalty to the visiting 22 and the Pocklington forwards drove unstoppably to the line where skipper Matt Webber got the touchdown, Bennett again converting.
Pocklington continued to camp in Keighley’s half but failed to turn pressure into points. Mitchell hit the post with a drop goal and wing Jake Bishop was tackled a yard short after Pocklington drove on from a free kick up and under.
Keighley put on significant pressure at the set scrum and the breakdown continued to be fiercely contested, but Pocklington did well at the lineout, aided by some wayward Keighley throwing.
However, they then set up another catch and drive position with a kick to the bottom corner, but this time Keighley turned over the lineout to clear.
Despite being in the driving seat, Pocklington found themselves penalised at regular intervals and had Tom Peters yellow-carded for offside a minute before the interval, giving Keighley lineout parity for his ten minutes in the bin.
It was a similar story in the second period, with most of the play being in Keighley territory, but penalties prevented Pocklington from ramming home the advantage - the second half penalty count was three to one against Pocklington.
Keighley kept pumping kicks down the middle of the pitch where fullback Bennett and wing Billy Hardy invariably fielded them safely and took Pocklington back onto the offensive. Pocklington were unlucky not to pull clear on the hour when Nixon and ebulient flanker Jack Holbrough burst up the middle and, as the ball came right, Bishop was again stopped just short and No 8 Karl Durkin had the ball dislodged from his grasp as he dived for the line in the far corner.
A heel against the head by Keighley gave them a lifeline with time running out as they kicked a long penalty goal. But Pocklington replacement Marcus Britland’s first carry up the clubhouse touchline caused Keighley pain, upset, a penalty and a subsequent yellow card.
Pocklington held the position and Bennett kicked a well-struck angled penalty.
Keighley knew they had to pull out the stops to get back in contention but the home backs, in particular, put in a series of big tackles, led by Joe Holbrough’s dump and steal and Nixon’s comprehensive hit in the centre.
Penalties at the breakdown and tackle continued to hurt Pocklington and three in succession into injury time gave Keighley an attacking foothold. The visitors had hardly got near the home line all afternoon but they launched a last gasp offensive that Pocklington repulsed at the cost of a yellow card for skipper Webber. A lineout gave Keighley another chance and when half the backs joined the forwards the Keighley dozen ground over for the try.
There were only seconds to go and Pocklington successfully held Keighley in their own half to the final whistle to ensure they came out on top of a good, old-fashioned battle.