Rovers weather Saracens storm but at a cost
Sharlston Rovers .. 30
Slaithwaite Saracens .. 18
Pennine Premier League
Rovers opened up their 2010-11 campaign with a hard fought victory over a very physical and capable Slaithwaite Saracens. The newly promoted Huddersfield outfit with the timely return of 5 Swinton contract expired players proved to be capable of more than matching Rovers throughout and it was only when hooker Phil Joseph was sent to the bin that Sharlston were able to pull away and add gloss to a tight score line.
Despite bagging the points in what will be a tightly contested division with the addition of Queens and Hunslet Old Boys, it wasn’t all positives as the physical encounter took a lot out on the Rovers pack with an important trip to Queens just around the corner.
In addition Rovers will be without the services of Geoff Hick, after pulling his side out of a 6-2 stalemate with 2 tries in the closing stages of the first half the full back suffered a nasty lower leg break which will require surgery and a long lay off. The heartbreaking injury comes at a time when Hick was returning to form after a knee injury put him out of the game for over 12 months and to add insult to injury he was meant to fly out to Ibiza for a vacation the following day.
Rovers were behind from the off as Slawit’ took 2 points on offer from a sily penalty 5 minutes in and Rovers weren’t able to reply until the 20th minute when a neat offload from new signing Danny Richardson put Sean Emblem in at the corner. The referee awarded a penalty try as the full back went in with the knees so despite the missed conversion, Phil Hill added the penalty from under the sticks and come away with 6 points.
Rovers couldn’t further their lead until 4 minutes before the break when hero Hick followed a Saville kick and collect to score under the posts for Hill to improve. Almost straight from the restart Hick was in again this time backing himself from acting half after a Ben Grundy run was pulled short for Rovers to take a 14 point lead into the break.
Only 4 minutes into the second half Hick suffered his grimacing injury and it seemed to disrupt the confidence the hosts had built on before the interval. Hooker Phil Joseph continued to cause many problems with ball in hand and started the Slawit’ comeback with a converted try. The visitors reduced their defecit further 5 minutes later when Darren Hawkyard was first to the corner and Daniel Garside added the touchline conversion.
Rovers managed to claw back a 6 point cushion on the hourmark when Gareth Davies hit back with a try but that was to be nullified with a try in on the touchside for Saracens winger Richard Flooks.
Going into the final 10 minutes it could have been anyone’s game but the decisive moment came when hard running forward Adam Saynor broke from his own half before being felled by a high challenge from problem man Joseph who subsequently missed the rest of the game in the sin bin.
With the man advantage Rovers capitalized and closed firmly on top with a try from new signing hooker Mike Emmett from dummy half and Gareth Davies completely his brace, Phil Hill adding one of the conversions.
Solid performances came from hooker Mike Emmitt, Lee Bettinson and Adam Saynor but Carl Saville shone at his new loose forward position to take the Picturehouse Wedding Videos man of the match.
All eyes this week will be on the mouthwatering tie when Sharlston travel to Bus Vale to play old adversaries Queens in the premier division, kick off 2.30pm.