Rob Booth marked his first start of the season with two tries, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a 40-20 home defeat for Boston Buccaneers against league leaders Derby City.
Grant Laws scored his first try for the club in the second half, while John Hummel added a try and two conversions.
Boston were forced into changes ahead of the game with Booth moving to loose forward and Jake Blanshard making his Buccaneers debut.
Derby were quick off the mark and opened the scoring with a converted try from their opening set.
Boston soon responded after strong ball carrying from Diogo Felicio and Dan Philpott gave the hosts a great field position. A slick interchange between halves John Stanfield and Jimmy Underwood then put man-of-the-match Booth into a gap to score a try under the posts.
Boston enjoyed some good spells of possession in the first half, but a resolute Derby defence kept them out.
At the other end Derby exploited gaps in the Boston defence on numerous occasions to run in a further five tries to build up a commanding 34-4 half-time lead.
Boston improved after the break and produced a more determined and organised second-half performance. Tackling improved as well as their tenacity.
The ball moved well between the forwards and backs with Laws and Blanshard punching holes in the visitors’ defensive line. Winger Chris Cook and full-back Scotty Stevenson always looked dangerous on the ball.
Boston were enjoying most of the possession in the early stages of the second half, but it was Derby who were next to score with a converted try in the corner.
The hosts reduced the deficit after Saulius Kaleda and Richard Lloyd smashed their way through the tiring Derby tacklers to set up an excellent backs move. The ball was then passed through the hands for winger Hummel to dart past a defender to score a try.
The Buccaneers were almost in again when Stevenson sprinted 40 metres down the wing after being released by hooker Brad Nixon, but he was tackled on the five metre line.
Boston were not to be denied soon after as Booth set up Laws, who ran a great line and wrong footed the defence to score his first try for the club.
Booth ran onto a short ball from Nixon to score the final try of the match under the posts, but it was too little too late to affect the result.
After the match Boston coach Jim Dearing said: “We got ourselves into some good positions with the ball, but the Derby defence kept showing up to keep us out.
“A slow start meant we had too much to do in the second half, but I was really proud of the team’s effort.”
Boston’s next match will see them take on Sherwood Wolf Hunt in the Midlands Rugby League Cup Final on Saturday, July 13. The final will take place at the ground of Kings Norton RFC in Birmingham.