Resilient Aire dig deep for hard fought win
By Granville Sellers
Improved Aire close out YMCA in enthralling encounter.
Huddersfield YMCA 15 v Aire 19
Aire traveled to YMCA licking their wounds after last weeks York’s Cup quarter final walloping by Harrogate. The pre match mood in the camp was positive, with skipper Johnny Ivory laying down his values and expectations for a much improved performance. Aire came out of the sheds pumped up and looked like they were in the mood for a physical encounter.
The opening exchanges were like a game of chess,which saw both teams trying to gain the upper hand, but errors on both sides neutralised attacking threat. There was nervousness in both camps, but it was Aire who forced plays and made the most mistakes in crucial areas. The hosts were awarded a penalty for a ruck infringement & a neat kick saw YMCA 10m from Aire’s line. The resulting line out was driven forward & Aire were caught napping with a splinter runner breaking free & scoring under the posts to take 7-0 lead.
Aire snapped back to life with a good kick chase putting YMCA under pressure. A series of powerful drives pounded YMCA’s line, but they held firm & held Aire up over the line. Aire were awarded a scrum 5m out and centre Sammy Woodley hit a scrumptious line and powered over to make it 7-5.
Aire fielded the re-start and worked good field position to work their way into their opponents half. A series of drives saw Miles & Eddie make the hard yards to earn a 5m scrum. The pack provided a stable platform, which enabled Joe Priestley to pick up from the base of the scrum & power over for a converted score 5-12.
Aire didn’t exit from the restart & YMCA drove forward with menace & purpose. Aire were under the cosh & a breakdown penalty was knocked over to close the gap to 10-12. That was to be the final action of the half & Aire knew they were in a titanic struggle.
Half time saw a raft of changes, with several of the pack replaced and Danyal Aslam coming in for impressive debutante Freddy Pullan at scrum half.
YMCA weren’t going to lie down and some poor discipline saw good field position reversed. Aire absorbed too much pressure & YMCA capitalised to score a well taken try.
With 10 minutes to go Aire managed to get in the front foot and began dominating the collision & breakdown area. Captain Johnny Ivory led from the front and the pack managed to turn over a ruck on the half way. The ball was spun right & Sammy Woodley made good ground before unleashing Joe Boughton who raced in from 20 m to score under the sticks. Sammy knocked over the conversion to take Aire into a 19-15 lead.
YMCA were far from finished and further poor discipline gifted good field position. YMCA pounded Aire’s line, but Aire showed grit & determination to repel wave after wave of attack. YMCA had one last throw of the dice, but Spencer Wood put in a fantastic tackle to prevent a certain score. The clock was running down and Aire held up a maul to secure what was a hard fought victory.
This was far from a complete performance, but Aire showed resolve & determination to close out the victory.
This was a good team effort, but credit to forwards Johnny Ivory, Calum Diamond, Eddie Farnell, Joe Priestley who worked their socks off. The replacement 2nd row partnership of Jake Baker & Tom Ayrton added physicality & aggression.
It was great to see Eliot Bunn back after 2 months out, who slotted in seamlessly at fly half. The outside backs looked sharp, with Sammy & Joe Boughton combining well in attack & defence.
Debutant Ethan Heede put in a workmanlike shift on the flank and made a solid start as an Aire player.
Aire entertain Cleckheaton next weekend 10am meet for 11KO.