YMCA came so close to beating the League’s runaway-leaders Wheatley Hills and could take plenty of heart from a fine performance despite the narrow 20-18 reversal.
Given the fact that YM are rooted to the foot of Yorkshire II and Wheatley have lost only once in 15 outings, the visitors went to Doncaster with a mountain to climb, but showed what a good side they are capable of becoming – should they manage to keep hold of their young assets!
One of them, Gavin Stead, put YM ahead with the second of two early penalties when Wheatley were caught offside, but the home side took the lead midway through the half when second row Penno peeled off the back of a scrum to crash over from short range.
Prompted by their No8 Burns, Wheatley extended their lead when the back row man burst through some weak defence to notch his side’s second score, only for centre Hayward to again fail with the conversion.
Kevin Hellawell was unlucky not to score just before the half-time whistle, when he picked up a loose ball and sprinted 60 yards before being hauled down just short of the line.
YM put the home side under pressure from the re-start with their forwards more than holding their own against a pack which had completely routed them in the first of the season’s encounters, and Stead nearly cut the deficit, but his next penalty attempt struck the posts and bounced clear.
But they come right back into the game on 48 minutes, when Adam Ryder blazed down the touchline, handed off two would-be tacklers, worked a splendid one-two with Stead and took the final pass to cross in the right corner.
Stead was unable to convert and unfortunately also missed another penalty which would have given YM the lead, and to make matters worse, Hayward made it 13-8 with his next penalty and then his centre partner Guest crossed for a converted try.
YM were not done, however, and rallied again with winger Chris Beever causing all sorts of problems in the Wheatley defence, while Stuart Morton, too, almost forced his way through a gap on a number of occasions.
Eventually they did breach the Wheatley line again, and again it was Ryder who outpaced the cover before handing off the full-back following great work from Beever and Neil Walker.
Stead struck a tremendous conversion from the touchline to put his side within two points of the leaders, but unfortunately they were unable to get a winning score despite pressurising right up to the final whistle.
Both teams had to be congratulated on a super, sporting game, well handled by referee Lazenby.
YMCA: Stead; Ryder, Morton, Housley, Beever; Swift, Wilson (Marshall 60); Dyke (Stu), Whittaker, Dyke (Ste), Whitehead, Hellawell, Walker, Leonne-Mazza (Sharp 60), Torrance. Sub not used: Wood.