Rovers lay down statement of intent
Drighlington .. 10 (0)
Sharlston Rovers .. 20 (2)
Pennine Premier League
Reigning Pennine League champions Sharlston Rovers laid down a solid statement of intent with their close away victory over perennial adversary Drighlington last weekend.
The annual fixture always proves to be one of the toughest of the campaign and this early season rendition was no different with both sides matching efforts for most of the first half.
It was Rovers who had the brighter of starts attacking up the step slope and with good possession Sutton was brought back for a forward pass early in the tackle count. Drighlington with a similar squad to the last game of the season proved they were more than up to the challenge with some testing kicks but Tommy Malyan marshalled the Rovers line well to keep out any trouble.
After 20 minutes of play Rovers looked to have made the first impact on the scoreboard when prolific Gareth Davies burst onto a flowing last tackle hands play, but due to the speed of the run the dead ball line approached too soon and Davies couldn’t get the ball down in time.
Drighlington standout forwards Mulhearn and Jarrett took their side forward well but Rovers defence proved impenetrable with Jonathan Waddle, Saville and debutant Adam Jones tackling everything that moved.
Captain Craige Miles thought he’d but his side ahead 10 minutes before the interval when getting over the line from one of his bullish charges but several Drig defenders managed to hold the ball up.
3 minutes before the interval and with scores still level Rovers decided to take any points on offer when Drighlington were judged guilty of stealing the ball in front of their own sticks and Chris Hill replacing the injured Tommy Malyan added the penalty goal to take the lead which they were definitely value for.
Now attacking down the slope Rovers looked to increase their lead but only 6 minutes in to the second half were sent back level when they were dealt the same punishment as Drighlington with a penalty in front of the sticks.
The pressure was back on for Rovers but Saville soon elevated that anxiety, collecting a smart short kick off from Miles and after a few steadying drives, the dominant hooker leapt out from acting half with devastating pace to score under the sticks, Hill added the easy conversion.
Rovers knew from past experience that the Leeds outfit wouldn’t back down and knew they needed to add more points on the hosts and with deep clearing kicks from Maskill and Jones they found themselves defending in the right area of the field.
Rovers pumped up the defensive intensity and bullish defending from Maskill saw Drighlington cough up the ball inside their own 10 meters, Hill reacted first collecting and supplying Ben Grundy to score in the corner. Hill coolly added the touchline conversion to take Rovers to a 12 point lead but with 25 minutes still remaining.
On the hour mark Drighlington true to form hit back with a try out in the corner with the winger pouncing on a dab to the corner. With only 7 minutes to go it was to be a grandstand finish with the hosts adding another try in the corner to reduce Sharlston’s lead to only 4 points.
The large following support grew anxious with Drighlington on the offensive but again Saville steadied the ship and created a break out of his own half to supply Davies before offloading to Waddle, agonisingly the referee scrubbed off the victory sealing try for a forward pass and Rovers were left to sweat a little longer.
With only seconds left of the game and Rovers in possession Miles went on one of his jinking runs and sealed the hard fought victory beating off several tackles to score under the sticks. Hill again increased the buffer to bring a close to what could be a season defining victory.
In a mammoth team effort Adam Jones impressed on debut and forwards Hall, Bingham and Waddle won the pack battle but hands down Picture House Wedding Films man-of-the-match had to be Carl Saville.
This coming weekend Rovers will be in Yorkshire cup action with an Round One away trip to Hull Wyke. The club will be running a supporters coach which is leaving the HQ at 11.30am and priced at £6 for Adults. Pre-bookings are being taken from the clubhouse or turn up on the day.