Aireborough Crusaders vs Huddersfield YMCA 3rd XV 27-12
By James Underwood
Young Men! No Need To feel Down When You're a Crusader. By Matty Jones
Youth and experience combine as the Crusade gathers further momentum.
After the long travel deep into the enemy territories of Baildon and Old Brodleians, the battle weary Crusaders were welcomed back to Fortress Nunroyd to continue the Aireborough 2019 resurgence. While the Wolfpack was sent to disrupt the vicious Harrogate Pythons, the Crusaders invited Huddersfield YMCA 3’s to try and stop a confident Aireborough side, boasting a lot of the old heads that had secured them an unbeaten start to 2019 as well as 3 youngsters making their senior debuts.
The Crusaders, much like the Village People who popularised the YMCA movement, contained a diverse group of people ranging from police officers to construction workers (we are still awaiting our first Native American Chieftain) but it was an ever growing group of Colts players that would provide a youthful exuberance amidst the macho men of the Crusader regulars. A late switch at full back saw Charles Fall drop out and be immediately replaced by the Pinocchio-legged Iain Craven who had spent the past 2 weeks since the Baildon game stretching those old oak hamstrings, only time would tell if any difference had been made.
With a favourable outcome at the coin toss, Aire would have early possession but most importantly be playing into their favourite corner in the second half. The early collisions were solid but quickly the newest members of the crusade would make an impact as a show and go by fly half Jacob Waugh would give Aire a platform to attack from. After a few phases the ball came wide to inside centre Matty Jones who drew in the defence before releasing outside centre Harry Beckwith into space to collect his first senior try on debut. The conversion was added by Matty Jones and within 3 minutes of the kick off, Aire were in the ascendancy.
More breaks in open field by Jacob and Harry would give the Crusaders more field position and although unable to convert this territory into points on this occasion, Aireborough set to put pressure on the YMCA attack who were camped on their own line. A momentary lapse in concentration by an Aireborough defence that expected a kick to touch, saw the Huddersfield backs find space out wide where the only covering defender was prop forward Si Sharp. Desite Si’s best efforts the quick backs were too much for him and had the legs to evade all other scrambling defenders to score under the posts. As the conversion was kicked, captain James Underwood outlined that this was a warning to the Crusaders that they would have to expect the unexpected in defence and become more clinical in attack.
The response was swift by the Crusaders who again used their new attacking threat at outside centre Harry Beckwith to punch a hole through the YMCA backline. Despite numerous attempts to bring him down, the cover defenders were unable to halt the young man’s progress and he touched down for his second try in the first 15 minutes of his debut. Again the extras were added by Matty Jones and Aireborough lead was restored.
So with 12 minutes gone the score was 14 - 7 to Aire and the expectations from the sidelines were that the Crusaders would push on with their superior attacking threat and keep the the scoreboard ticking over. Alas the call from captain Underwood to be more clinical in attack was unheeded as chances were created and then lost with unerring frequency. Another break from young Harry Beckwith (YMCA backs will be having nightmares about tackling the young centre for many a night by the end of the game) saw him offload inside to centre partner Matty Jones who with 5 meters to go merely had to give the ball to the supporting James Underwood for an easy walk over under the sticks. But in a moment of what can only be described as blind panic at finding himself so close to scoring a second try of the season, Jones tried to go alone and was thwarted by the YMCA full back before then trying to belatedly give the ball to Captain Underwood. The result was a dropped ball and a swift kick by Underwood to bring some clarity to Jones’ thinking.
With seconds remaining in the half Aire were once again attacking in the Huddersfield half when a high tackle on the pocket rocket Jacob Waugh gave Aire a chance to finish the half 2 scores ahead. The penalty was kicked by Jones and the half finished with Aire wondering how they weren’t further ahead.
HT Aireborough Crusaders 17 - 7 Huddersfield YMCA 3s
The second half continued in the same way as the first half had finished with Aire pushing forward against an ever resilient Huddersfield defence. The work in the early stages of the half was mostly contained to the forward pack who not only secured their own set pieces but were able to turn a few scrums over. The presence of front row replacements (even 4 minute wonder Steve Jones) allowed the Crusaders forward to take the game to their YMCA counterparts. Rarely were Aire to be found inside their own half and even when they were it would not last long.
Eventually pressure on the YMCA defence proved too much as a penalty was given in midfield within range of the right boot of Jones. Unfortunately the accuracy wasn’t quite right and the ball narrowly missed the right hand side post before going dead.
Amazingly Huddersfield chose to kick the resulting 22m drop out towards Harry Beckwith who immediately ran it back to well within the YMCA half before setting up for the forwards to take over. As Aireborough once again battered the YMCA defence, frustrations became apparent as yet another penalty was given against the visitors. This time Captain Underwood tapped the ball with both Si Sharp and Jonny Hanson lining up ready to try smash their way over the line. Neither player would get that chance as Underwood looked over and saw a steely glint in the eye of Mark Rollinson followed by a cheeky wink that said nothing would stop him from getting over the line if he was given the ball. After dummying Si Sharp, Underwood gave the ball to Rollinson who did exactly what his eyes had promised and battered his way through the defence before putting the ball down with several would be tacklers still attached. YMCA tried to appeal that the ball had not been grounded but the ref was clear with his decision. With the conversion added, Aire looked in control of the game and were keen to get a scoreline that would reflect the performance so far.
More midfield battles followed with the resolute YMCA defence not giving up the fight and it would take until the 70th minute before the Crusaders would add more points to the board. With both packs starting to tire and more space opening up in the outfield, full back Iain Craven was beginning to show off his skills, twice opening holes down the right hand side before attempting the pass to winger Luke Buchan. Unfortunately neither pass was completed but the Crusaders would continue to use the wide flanks and eventually a draw and pass saw Craven run into open field 30 meters from the tryline in an almost identical scenario to the game at Baildon. Those in attendance that day would remember seeing a man run with the flexibility of an expensive oak wood table. This time however it was obvious that he’d been stretching those hammy’s as he made it to the line before a defender could lay a hand on him. The conversion by Jones hit the post despite being bang in front. The final 10 minutes would see more pressure from Aireborough and a rare break by YMCA late on that was brought to a halt before becoming too dangerous. With a final blast of the whistle the referee brought the game to an end and Aireborough once again revel in that winning feeling for a 3rd time in as many weeks.
FT Aireborough Crusaders 27 - 7 Huddersfield YMCA 3s
The game showed the best qualities of experienced players who battle hard and youth players bringing speed and energy that can cover holes in defence and create them in attack. All three debutants (Harry Beckwith, Alex Waugh and Jacob Waugh) gave greater accounts of themselves and will hopefully inspire more Colts players to give senior rugby a try with players being given opportunities at both Crusader and 1st XV level.
The year 2019 seems to be getting better and better from an AIreborough point of view. With the Crusaders so far unbeaten in the calendar year and the 1st XV mounting the great escape with a win away at top of the league Harrogate Pythons, the mood around Fortress Nunroyd is becoming increasingly more positive and this can only breed further positive results.
Man of the Match - the past two weeks have proved difficult when choosing a MOM (so much so that 3 players shared the award last week) but this week proved a little easier. Jacob Waugh playing 10 on his debut showed great quality both with his passing skills and his ability to dart through a gap (not to mention the extra penalties received for high tackles). Solid performances in the pack by Tom Helliwell, Mark Rollinson and the rest prevented the Big YMCA pack from gaining any ground but the stand out performance came from double try scorer Harry Beckwith. Playing your first senior game is hard enough without playing out of position as well (Harry is normally a back rower with Colts/school) but no one watching would have guessed those facts after watching his performance. In defence he was solid when called upon but in attack he caused problems throughout the game and was well worth the 2 tries he scored and perhaps more (jug avoidance is only acceptable while you are under 18 Harry!).
Next week the Crusaders play Halifax Dukes away with a squad full of confidence that they can beat anyone that stands in their way providing they stick to the sound principals that have guided them well so far in 2019.