THERE was precious little to cheer the faithful few on a bitingly-cold, wet and thoroughly miserable day at Laund Hill as YM again failed to inspire, losing 10-0 to Sheffield in Yorkshire I.
Against a team they could reasonably expect to have beaten, YM rarely ventured into their opponents’ half and never looked likely to get over the fourth-minute setback, when debutant left-winger Tom Oben ghosted through a paper-thin defence to go behind the sticks.
Sheffield full-back Tom Roberts converted and added a 14th-minute penalty, and that was it. No more points, no excitement – and no way back.
In fact, Laund Hill coach (and director of rugby) Carl Thewlis must now be wondering where his next win will come from.
Stalwart No8 Neil Walker pounded out the hard yards as usual, while captain James Bracken injected some go forward when he came off the bench two minutes into the second half, but with the exception of a five-minute spell around the hour mark, the home side posed little threat in attack.
It wasn’t through lack of effort that they failed to penetrate Sheffield’s line, more down to poor handling, wrong options and a lack of experience and imagination. But to their credit, and with the exception of the early ‘wave through’, they defended really well – and they had to.
For the visitors must have enjoyed 80% of possession throughout the game, and a better side would have been away and clear by half-time.
YM suffered an early loss when second rower Damian Pearson went down injured and was replaced by Simon Whitehead, and they were hampered further when flanker Steve Anderson spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin either side of half-time.
Sheffield spent a good 10 minutes camped on YM’s line, but they held firm, even with one man light, and gradually with a couple of good touch-finding kicks from full-back Paul Williams, YM crossed the halfway line.
And on 56 minutes, Gavin Stead had the chance to break his side’s duck, but pushed his 35-yard penalty wide. However, it did signal YM’s only real brief spell of pressure and they actually came close to scoring.
Following Stead’s miss, they surprisingly spurned another penalty chance from right in front of the posts, electing to tap and go, and had right winger Adam Ryder been able to hold on to the ball they may well have had a try in the corner, but it slipped out of his grasp as he dived for the line. And that was as near as they came.
Ryder had another couple of runs, while Williams came into the line on another occasion, but then Sheffield took control of possession once again and ground out a win, which obviously meant the world to them, but leaves YMCA deep in trouble.
YMCA: Williams; Belton, Stead, Eastwood, Ryder; Sargeant, Wolfe; Van Niekirk, Joblin, Gregson, Pearson (Whitehead 15), Housley, Coulson (Bracken 42) Anderson, Walker. Sub (not used) Marshall.
Sheffield: Roberts, Oben, Amos, Cox (C), Cox (J), Carpenter, Poste, Marples, Wattam, Cooper, Park, Kelly, Bradshaw, Elers, Broomhead. Subs: Barrett, Hill, Cotton.
Referee: David Downham (Central Yorkshire).