A close Roses encounter saw Lancashire edge their hosts for a 29-23 win at Scarborough.
Fylde’s Warren Spragg was the match-winner for Lancashire, sprinting half the length of the field after intercepting a misplaced pass to put his side into a dominant position in the Bill Beaumont Cup North group.
The match had seen periods of play in which both sides were in the ascendancy, but Yorkshire entered the half-time break in front, after a first half in which Lancashire were guilty of a number of handling errors at close quarters.
It had taken some time for Yorkshire to threaten the Lancashire line, with their first foray into the visitor’s 22 coming after Ryan De La Harpe had already put the Red Rose side ahead on 17 minutes.
The Fylde scrum half took advantage of Oli Brennand’s offload after his clubmate had made a good break to find space and put him through. Johnson converted from out left.
That first period in Lancashire’s 22 saw the Yorkshire pack assert their power, but it was fly-half Jamie Lennard whose vision began creating chances. His chip over the defensive line saw Jim Wigglesworth run through to drop on the ball, but the winger was held up. From the resultant scrum, Lennard weaved his way through a gap to bring his side back, but sliced his conversion attempt.
Yorkshire took the lead on the half-time whistle, with that Lennard-Wigglesworth combination working its magic once more. Lennard kicked a neat grubber through the line after a driving maul had given him the opportunity, and Wigglesorth was the right man to chase it and give Yorkshire the lead. Lennard converted for a 12-7 advantage.
Pete Altham was the man at the bottom of the pile after driving over the line just three minutes into the second half with the try awarded after referee LLyr ApGeraint-Roberts consulted his assistant. Johnson missed the conversion, so the game was finely balanced at 12 points all.
Lennard’s kicking from distance gave his side three points soon afterwards, and with the penalty count against Lancashire rising, it appeared as though he could have added to that, but missed a second long distance effort minutes later.
Good close passing on the left wing saw De La Harpe repay Brennand’s earlier favour, giving the winger the final pass to allow him to run between the sticks for Johnson’s simple conversion, but Yorkshire took the lead on the hour, with a powerful drive over the line by their pack; James Holland giving his side the slenderest of leads at 21-20.
With just over ten minutes to play, Johnson kicked the second of two penalties in close succession to regain the lead.
Into the late stages of the game, Yorksire were in the middle of a fine run of form, but a loose pass from Richard List was pounced upon by Spragg, who fended off the last defender to run through and stretch his side’s lead, for another Johnson conversion.
Fleetwood’s David Fairbrother was sin-binned in the final minute, with Lennard kicking the resulting penalty, but it was too little too late for Yorkshire.
Lancashire head coach Mark Nelson said afterwards: “That was one of the closest Lancashire-Yorkshire games I’ve been involved with in recent years. We did very well against a very well organised, very well coached and talented Yorkshire team who really showed a competitive edge that the Roses game fires up. I think we just about deserved it, but it could have gone either way. I’m really proud of the boys, and they way they performed.
“We regrouped at half time to make one or two changes, which helped. The game had a lost of twists and turns in it, with Yorkshire on top for periods, then we were on top. “I think that when we took key chances in the game, in particular Warren Spragg’s try, that gave us the breathing space we needed.
“Our front row made a big impact, I was pleased with the way the forwards preformed as a unit very well. The back three played particularly well, and Chris Johnson led the side with aplomb for an all round good team performance.
“It’s in our hands now, we go in to the Cheshire game now where were are not relying on anything other than our own ability.