RUGBY union returned to York for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus as Pocklington RUFC defeated York RUFC 40-21 in friendly action.

Pocklington ran out as comfortable winners at the end, having been behind at half-time, but the occasion was far more important than the result as players and supporters finally put a 14-month wait behind them and enjoyed an entertaining nine-try encounter.

It was not quite normal service being resumed, as the sport’s adapted regulations meant no scrums or mauls took place.

Meanwhile the crowd of a couple of hundred had to remain seated at tables of six during the course of the action.

With tap penalties replacing scrums, the action was fast and furious, with the first half seeing each side cross three times - York’s three conversions to Pocklington’s two giving them a 19-21 interval advantage.

The opening exchanges saw Pocklington concede a spate of breakdown penalties, then redeem themselves with key turnovers.

And another tackle steal on halfway on 11 minutes was the prelude to home prop Andrew Kere-Rako galloping 30 yards to the corner to celebrate his 21st birthday with the first score of the game and the season. Christian Pollock converted the try.

York were soon level as Pocklington made a mess of fielding a chip over behind their own line.

York fullback Sam Elliot followed up the effort to get the touchdown with Liam Hessay converting.

Pock’s pack pressure, led by number eight Andy Little, ended with flanker Jack Holbrough plunging under the posts and easily allowing Pollock another conversion.

But York lock Tom Hicks soon blasted over at the other end for a debut try and Hessay added the extras to bring up a 14-14 scoreline.

It remained an end-to-end affair as home wing Charlie Laudage crossed on the left only to be brought back for an earlier infringement.

York then broke 80 yards down the opposite flank to send Elliot sprinting over for his second score and Hessay’s third conversion put his side ahead for the first time.

The visitors held onto that half-time lead despite Richie Kaisia’s midfield offload giving centre partner Josh Britton the space to squeeze over at the left flag for an unconverted try.

Both sides brought on their bench, and it was all York for the first quarter of an hour of the second period with teenage fly half Joe Lawrence and returning forward Grayson McGuire showing up well.

York battered at the home line but determined defence saw Pocklington keep the visitors at bay before turning the tables with two quick-fire tries in as many minutes.

Pollock led a breakout from deep in his own territory, and after the hosts went close in the left corner they swung the ball wide right for wing Tom Richardson to cross.

And they scored again from the restart as replacement wing Michael Gilbank was set free to outpace the cover on the left. Pollock’s two conversions giving Pocklington clear water.

Pocklington then pulled clear with their sixth try of the afternoon, Pollock making the initial break and kicking the final conversion after replacement scrum half Rob Boddy had burst free to dive over for his senior debut score. Pocklington are at home to Goole on Saturday while York go to Harrogate on 15 May.