A DRAMATIC finish to Tarleton RUFC first XV’s opening home game of the season saw them clinch a narrow win over Trafford Metrovic, writes Jeff Gordon.
The hosts knew they were in for a tough test after Trafford’s strong win at Bolton in their first match of the season.
But the Carr Lane side held on to win 25-23 and make it two wins from two in a keenly-contested fixture.
The first five minutes of the game saw Trafford probing for a way through the Tarleton defence to no avail, and a well-timed interception saw George Skofic pick up the first of his tries with an 80-yard run to the line.
After 20 minutes there had been no further score but some good breaks by Ben and Jack Kelly saw good chances created that came to nothing.
By this time Trafford’s No.10 had made his game plan clear and was kicking for territory on every occasion as he had realised that it was going to be difficult to break Tarleton’s defence.
With 25 minutes on the clock another good break by Ben Kelly and good inter-play with Pete Steele saw Tarleton crash into the visitors’ 22 and a well-timed inside pass to George Skofic saw him get his second try of the day and establish a 10-0 lead.
At this point the kicking game of Trafford saw them constantly in Tarleton’s half and through various mistakes Tarleton gifted them three penalties in front of the posts in quick succession. Trafford converted all three to claw the score back to 10-9.
From the re-start Jack Kelly was caught in possession and was penalised for not releasing and Trafford took a 12-10 lead.
Not to be outdone a good restart kick from Ben Kelly was chased down by Archie Skofic who was tackled high to stop any chance of him crashing through. The resulting penalty was slotted over by Ben Kelly to give Tarleton a 13-12 half-time lead.
From the start of the second half Trafford’s forwards gained good ground and their No. 10 playmaker took the opportunity to put a good drop goal over the posts to give Trafford a 15-13 lead.
Ten minutes in a good break down the line saw George Skofic crash over in the corner only for it to be called held up. From the resulting scrum a good break by Ben Kelly almost saw him go over but good support play by Archie Skofic saw him just make the line despite the attentions of the Trafford defence.
Tarleton now had a 20-15 lead and despite a lot of pressure from Trafford they extended their lead with another good kick out of defence by Ben Kelly that was chased down and flipped out to George Skofic on the wing.
Skofic sold the Trafford full-back the most outrageous dummy and scored in the corner to establish a 25-15 lead.
This should have been game over but Trafford had other ideas and another good kick into Tarleton’s 22 saw Tarleton again drawn in to giving a penalty, which was converted.
At 25-18 were Trafford looking for a converted try to draw with eight minutes left.
Ben Kelly left the pitch injured and not having a kicking option to clear their lines Tarleton played keep ball.
However, they lost a scrum against the head just outside their own 22 and one of the Trafford subs crashed through with fresh legs and scored a good try to bring the score to 25-23.
But with the pressure on the Trafford No. 10 put the conversion wide with his first miss of the day keep Tarleton ahead. Two minutes later the final whistle went for Tarleton to take a narrow two point win for the second week in succession.
TARLETON IIs lost 75-6 at Wigan IIIs.