Yorkshire Division Two: Old Grovians 26 Yarnbury 39

MANY visiting supporters, and possibly some Yarnbury players, must have thought it was not going to be their day when skipper James White dropped a simple try-scoring pass in first-half injury time.

Hosts Old Grovians were leading 19-8 at the time and it was a golden opportunity for the Brownberrie Lane side to pull the margin back to four points at the interval.

That sinking feeling was probably only intensified when home full back Max Kennedy – man of the match four weeks previously in their thumping win at Old Otliensians – ran from the right wing on a diagonal line to near the left corner to put them 26-8 in front, courtesy of Ben Brown’s conversion.

However, former Otley fly half or centre White, who was skippering Yarnbury, was not among the doubters, despite his faux pas.

He said: “We were making chances but it just a case of putting them away.”

His team were as good as his word and, after going 18 points behind, they scored four tries in 11 minutes to turn the game on its head.

After that, the victory was never in doubt for Yarnbury, and the only question was whether Grovians could add a losing bonus point to their four-try bonus point - but they didn’t, going down 39-26.

Yarnbury, missing five players who were at Adam Batson’s wedding, went ahead in the third minute when prop Lewis Atha was tackled high, with full back Joe Pinnick landing the penalty.

However, Kennedy made his first impact four minutes later, setting up powerful left winger Robin Jones for a try that Brown converted.

Pinnick missed a penalty in the tenth minute, and the home side went further in front seven minutes later when they capitalised on multiple phases with a try by centre Josh Dixon that Brown improved to make it 14-3.

Yarnbury were then offside at the kick-off, but they survived that setback by pouncing on a home error in the 20th minute.

Left winger Josh Bell almost made the line but there was no reprieve as Nathan Benton scored.

In general, however, the visitors’ tackling was weak in the first half, and Dixon bagged his second try in the 28th minute.

Benton was then held up over the line as Yarnbury tried to respond, with Brown eventually clearing his lines.

Then came White’s awful error after the try he had been set up on a plate for him by Pinnick.

“Don’t let him step” was the warning from Yarnbury spectator John Riley as Kennedy went on a run two minutes after the interval, but the words were not heeded as the full back – marked out again by his red, green and white scrum cap – ran from close to the right wing all the way towards the left corner to score a fine try, with Brown’s conversion making it 26-8.

Then came the dramatic change in fortunes as Bell, Pinnick, Ian Maycock and White scored tries in the 48th, 50th, 54th and 58th minutes respectively to put Yarnbury 34-26 ahead, with Pinnick adding three conversions.

Pinnick’s penalty miss in the 61st minute kept the margin at eight points, but fly half Daniel Pound kept the pressure on with an astute box kick, and the visitors rubbed salt in the wound with Tom Whitfield’s close-range try in the 70th minute.

Old Grovians knew that they needed to score a converted try to get that extra point but it was they who were in danger of conceding another try as the final whistle blew, with Yarnbury’s win putting them above Grovians in the table in tenth.

White added: “This season we have lost several games that we should have won but there is a good feeling within the club and I am confident that we have enough good players to stay out of trouble.”

Old Grovians’ Jack Hartley said: “We have quite a lot of inexperienced players but we have quite a good team.

“We had quite a few players missing ourselves, and I don’t think it was a fitness issue, more a lack of a bit of ticker.

“We just need to put an 80-minute performance together, and we have two games before Christmas to try and sort that out.”