Davies rescues National Cup victory with last play try
Fryston Warriors .. 18
Sharlston Rovers .. 20
BARLA ACE Insurance (Europe) Ltd NATIONAL CUP FINAL
At Fylde Rugby Union Club, Lytham St Annes
There have been some great BARLA National Cup Finals in the previous thirty seven years but none as dramatic as this all Yorkshire final which was finally won with the last play in the last second of the game. Wakefield side Sharlston Rovers defeated Castleford side Fryston Warriors 22-18 to win the Cup for the first time in their history.
A Gareth Davies try his 53rd of the season was bitter sweet to gain some revenge for the town after the professional side were knocked out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup the week previously to a tenth minute penalty goal in golden point extra time.
This was a tough no holds barred uncompromising final with both sides going in full on with some tremendous hits and defence and silky skills when needed and the game got better as the seconds and minutes ticked by. The lead changed hands four times with the final change proving crucial.
The man in the middle Darren Hayes was strong and decisive with quick decisions to ensure neither side bullied their way to victory and allowed play to flow whenever possible as the tension built. It was the indiscipline of both sides that led to tries none more so than the fateful one conceded by Fryston Warriors with less than a minute of normal time remaining.
Both sides went for it from the beginning but the Fryston Warriors pack got on top early doors with hits and drives from Gareth Handford, Steve Scott, Johnny Jones, Scott Horner man of the match Mark Castle and were then led round the park by halves Andy Speake, Dave Probert and hooker Adam Dickinson.
The Warriors opened the scoring on eight minutes following a penalty after electing to run the ball ten metres out. Speake put in a delicate crossfield chip to the corner and winger James Cryer was there to collect and score the first of his brace.
The Warriors literally threw the kitchen sink at Rovers who defended defiantly on their own line as the game was played in their half. They finally yielded to the constant pressure following another penalty and the Warriors doubled their lead when Handford drove unstoppable over the line on 20 minutes.
It had been all Fryston and the only time Rovers got a look in they lost the ball early in the tackle count in the Warriors half.
Roverís substitutions proved crucial as Lee Maskill, Carl Saville, Tommy Crowther and Adam Saynor joined the fray to assist their side who also had big contributions from Davies Lee Bettinson, Brian Sutton, Steve Hall and Craig Miles.
In his cameo twenty five minutes appearance Maskill showed his international class with a couple of delicate chips over the Warriors defence which wasnít fruitful at the time but game his side a boost in confidence.
This got better as he was involved in Rovers opening try. Maskell got the ball and drove forward but he was clamped by a number of Warriors defenders but somehow managed to offload the ball which was quickly flicked out down the line to winger Geoff Hicks who scored in the corner to halve the lead on 27 minutes.
Rovers began to play with more purpose getting back into the game and seven minutes later they took the lead on the back of back to back penalties. As they attacked the ball was knocked back and Miles picked up the loose ball to score by the posts and Tom Malyan added the extras for a two point lead.
The second half continued as the first with both sides hammering at each other with a smattering of penalties to either side and Rovers increased their lead on 58 minutes after a superb break down the middle by Davies who had been kept quiet by his standards throughout the season. He accelerated through the defence before drawing the fullback and passing to the supporting Lee Lingard to go under the posts for a converted try to make it 16-8.
The Warriors though shocked moved up a gear to fight back and retake the lead after two tries in a four minute spell.
On 64 minutes Warriors captain Handford drove over for his second following yet another penalty which Speake converted and Speake put in a crossfield bomb for Cryer to score in a similar position to his first and they led 18-16.
With four minutes left Rovers were awarded a kickable penalty 20 metres out and bravely ran the ball but foolishly lost it on the second tackle and the warriors came away from their own line clinging to the lead.
Then into the last minute of the game Rovers were awarded other kickable penalty 10 metres out. Again instead of going for the two points to take the game to extra time they elected to run the ball. They made three drives to the line and were held short but on the fourth tackle they passed the ball through several pairs of hands before Davies took the ball on the crash to dive over in the corner despite the Warriors sliding defence.
Amid joy and jubilation for the Rovers players and the their fans there was despair for the Warriors. Although Malyan missed the conversion it didnít matter as the referee blew for time and Rovers name was the new name on the BARLA National cup.
FRYSTON WARRIORS: 1. Dale Cogan, 2. James Cryer, 3. Gary Lumb, 4. Lee Land, 5. Andy Matthews, 6. Andy Speake, 7. Dave Probert, 8. Gareth Handford, 9. Adam Dickinson, 10. Johnny Jones, 11. Steve Scott, 12. Mark Castle, 13. Scott Horner. Subs: 14. Steve Handford, 15. Dean Tucker, 16. Stu Flowers, 17.Gareth Swinston.
Tries: Cryer 2, Handford 2
SHARLSTON ROVERS: 1. Derrel Olpherts, 21. Geoff Hick, 20. Gareth Davies, 4. Lee Lingard, 5. Tommy Malyan, 6. Adam Jones, 7. Phillip Hill, 14, Tom Burns, 9. Lee Bettinson, 10. Danny Richardson, 15. Brian Sutton, 12. Steve Hall, 13. Craig Miles. Subs: 29. Lee Maskill, 11. Carl Saville, 16. Tommy Crowther, 18. Adam Saynor.
Tries: Hick, Miles, Lingard, Davies
Goals: Malyan 2
Half Time: 8-10
Referee: Darren Hayes
Man of the Match: Mark Castle (Fryston Warriors)