THIS was expected to be the first serious test of how YMCA’s running game would hold up in wet and heavy conditions.
And judging by the eight tries scored and the way their mobile pack showed their superior fitness around the sticky North Dean deck, they clearly passed the test with flying colours.
Being critical, YM’s scrummaging is clearly in need of work, but that was the only area of the game where the home side could claim any success.
From the kick-off YM were straight onto the attack and within five minutes had set up the first try for Mark Whitehead, when the forwards executed a brilliant maul, leaving the skipper with the simple task of dotting the ball down to claim the first points.
Gavin Stead missed the conversion but added a penalty shortly after to moved YM into an 8-0 lead, while on the opposite side, centre Hinchliffe failed to land a three-pointer for Heath.
YM were throwing the ball about freely, and the next score came courtesy of perfectly-weighted pass from Ed Barber to winger Lloyd Bentley who scorched through a gap and outpaced all the cover from just inside Heath’s half to claim a superbly finished try.
Stead stepped up to the mark to convert and extend YM’s cushion to 15-0.
YM’s forwards were having a good spell and Josh Lumb in particular was on top of his game and showing the sort of form which made him such a stand-out player as a colt.
His physical presence is a formidable weapon in YM’s armoury and he clearly showed that as he smashed his way through the defence, splitting them completely and setting himself on a run to the line.
He found players in support, and the ball came to full-back Matt Johnson who finished the move wide out, Stead adding the conversion for a 22-0 half-time lead.
A textbook maul at the start of the second half saw YM’s pack trundle forward some 50 metres, sucking players in all the way until Simon Wilson released the ball at just the right moment and Barber crossed the line unopposed.
Heath tried to respond and began to apply some pressure to YM’s defence which held up well through the excellent tackling stints of the Dyke brothers, Steve and Stuart, along with Sam Hodge, before they lost James Bell to the sin-bin.
Twice YM were penalised for offside which Heath elected to scrummage, and when the visitors were pulled up for a third time, the referee awarded a penalty try.
Hinchliffe added the conversion, but the score only served to fire YM back up and hooker Ben Hill showed a clean pair of heels in a break which ended when he unselfishly passed on to centre Adam Ryder to finish off the try.
Whitehead should have had a second try, but he knocked on with the line at his mercy.
However, it was only a temporary setback as Ryder swatted off a number of tacklers on a 40-memtre sprint to the line, which demonstrated his class and sheer power, Stead adding the conversions to both tries to take YM out of sight at 43-7.
Prop Josh Wrafter powered his way over in the corner for try No7, the distance of run getting ever larger as the tale was recounted later, before YM gave a run-out to their inter-change players, Greg Robertson, Danny Dyson and Tom Bullock.
Heath’s forwards were rewarded with a late try, but YM had the last word when Bentley was on hand to finish off a super move among the backs as Stead knocked over his seventh conversion.
An outstanding display of open running rugby and strong defence, but the scrummage did lookvulnerable at times, and in a tight game solid possession makes all the difference.
YMCA: Johnson, Stead, Ryder, Barber, Bentley; Clayton, Wilson; Wrafter, Hill, Ste Dyke, Stu Dyke, Bell, Lumb, Hodge, Whitehead. Interchange: Dyson, Bullock, Robertson.