John Mooney: Three Tuns v Upton
In an uncompromising and often feisty encounter at Massey Street, Three Tuns maintained their unbeaten start to their first season in the Pennine League with a hard-fought 18-12 victory over Upton.
The West Riding-based visitors arrived with just 14 players, a disappointing turnout after a rare victory over Ovenden in the Yorkshire Cup last week, and also suffered a couple of injuries and two players sin-binned during the 80 minutes. But if Tuns thought it was likely to be an easy ride they were in for a shock.
The opening quarter was a tight affair with no quarter asked nor given. Upton suffered an early injury blow but, with their only replacement being a forward nicknamed, 'Psycho', Tuns were quickly made aware this would be no pushover. However, on the quarter-mark big Liam Robinson powered over under the posts to give Jak Tuttle an easy conversion and the home side were in the driving seat.
It looked like staying at that score with neither side really threatening but Upton turned good possession into a converted score right on half-time, Ross Burrows powering over with Steven Beale adding the extras. Burrows was immediately sent to the sin-bin for throwing the ball at an opponent so his team began the second period short-handed.
It was Tuttle who broke the deadlock after 15 minutes when scampering over after a period of pressure - the visitors complaining he hadn't grounded the ball correctly though to touchline observers, and more importantly the referee, there appeared little wrong. He converted himself and when the classy Nev Morrison, who looked the best player on the pitch throughout, went over for a solo effort five minutes later it looked all over bar the shouting.
Not so! Upton fought back like tigers, superbly led by half-back Jimmy Mercer, and when tough second-row forward Fran Welsh battled over after a flowing move and Beale converted it was game on. A Tuttle drop-goal attempt went wide and Upton marched down the field with five hard-drives and looked like going in under the posts only for the ball to be dropped at the last minute - and that was it.
A hard-fought encounter went the way of Tuns and though they are now three from three in the League this is turning out to be a competitive Premier Division and the return game at Upton won't be for the faint-hearted.