Rovers return for on form Davies
Halifax Irish .. 32
Sharlston Rovers .. 34
Rovers were made to do it tough at the newly promoted Halifax Irish but showed true grit and determination to come from behind despite being a man down for half of the game.
The hosts had racked up to 2 hefty wins in previous premier league rounds and on this showing are going to turn some heads in their first season back in the top division of the flagship amateur competition. With a huge pack and experience of playing the deceptive slope the Irish struck first early into the opening minutes with robust second rower Paul Steele barrelling over from close range.
Early possession stayed with the home side with Rovers pinned in their own half for the majority of the start. Luckily for Rovers back in the Arsenal was Gareth Davies who after a flirtation with the professional game with Hunslet Hawks is back at his local club.
The prolific centre opening his amateur account as he left off with a length of the field score fending off the defenders and beating the covering defence with his pace. Ian Jackson converted the replying score to take the lead.
Rovers could only hang on to the lead for 10 minutes though as the Irish replied through Super League experienced loose forward Andrew Brocklehurst with a jinking self-converted score. The hosts extended their lead further soon after with Chris Holroyd sold the dummy to go over close to the sticks where Brocklehurst added the easy conversion to go 10 points in front.
Rovers forwards battled solidly to make yardage but were restricted to their own half, on the fifth and last they spread the ball to Davies once again who stepped inside to wrong foot his man before rounding the full back to hit back for Rovers, Jackson goaling.
It was Davies once again who crossed for the equalising score 5 minutes before the interval but the try was set up on the back of a strong carry and offload by Scott Glassell with Geoff Hick taking more metres off the hosts. The last play of the set saw the ball come to Davies again but weary of his attacking strength put numbers on him which tied up several defenders but Davies sneaked out the ball to Phil Hill who took the offload to go blindside before passing back to Davies to finish.
The Irish pack men managed to get close to the Rovers line once again and couldn’t hold prop Jack Holmes who crashed over the whitewash under the posts, Brocklehurst converting.
Irish looked to increase their lead further but ill-discipline from Nick Cassell earned himself 10 minutes in the bin for punching at play the ball. From the resulting penalty Rovers marched down the field but couldn’t make the possession pay and whilst defending Rovers too were sent to 12 men with Adam Saynor cooling his heels for 10 minutes for interference at marker.
With both teams down to 12 men for the opening 10 minutes of the second half Rovers were dealt a low blow when Danny Glassell was dismissed for an offence in the tackle which the visiting crowd were baffled to identify.
The Irish got their man from the bin and with 2 less players on the field Rovers struggled to fill the gaps when Chris Norman took advantage of the overlap.
Rovers got their man back from the bin but with still a man down and 10 points behind had a mountain to climb. The visitors showed real determination and clawed back the deficit thanks to Gareth Davies’ fourth try of the afternoon, dabbing through a kick for himself to ground over the whitewash. Jackson reduced the arrears to 4 points with the goal.
It wasn’t till the hour mark until the breakthrough came for Rovers, after an attempt from Wandless was ruled out Rovers got over the line via Scott Glassell who was the first to react to the spilled ball from an Irish forward dislodged by a huge tackle from Dean Gamble. Jackson goaled to take the slender 2 point lead.
With just 8 minutes left the Irish looked to have regained the lead but strong defence over the line from Mallinder and Bingham made sure the Irish prop dropped the ball in the action of grounding it. From the resulting scrum Ian Jackson went on a crossfield run and Davies on the outside of his man and with a strong fend and injection of pace was racing out of his own half under the posts to all the but seal the win. Jackson converted and Rovers were 8 points ahead with only 5 minutes remaining.
A period of nervousness followed when the hosts came back within 2 points with a second score for robust forward Paul Steele, Brocklehurst adding the extras. Rovers held out for the remainder of the match for a gutsy victory inspired by a quintet of tries from returning man of the match Davies.
Rovers continue to forge ahead in league action this weekend with a home tie against newly promoted Thornhill Trojans who are still searching for their first points after jumping up from division 2, kick off 2.30pm.
5' TRY #12 Paul Steele 4-0
9' TRY #3 Gareth Davies GOAL #1 Ian Jackson 4-6
22' TRY #13 Andrew Brocklehurst GOAL #13 Andrew Brocklehurst 10-6
27' TRY #6 Chris Holroyd GOAL #13 Brocklehurst 16-6
32' TRY #3 Gareth Davies GOAL #1 Jackson 16-12
35' TRY #3 Gareth Davies 16-16
37' TRY #10 Jack Holmes GOAL #13 Brocklehurst 22-16
49' TRY #3 Chris Norman 26-16
52' TRY #3 Gareth Davies GOAL #1 Jackson 26-22
60' TRY #13 Scott Glassell GOAL #1 Jackson 26-28
72' TRY #3 Gareth Davies GOAL #1 Jackson 26-34
73' TRY #12 Paul Steele GOAL #13 Brocklehurst 32-34
Sin Bin : Irish #11 Nick Cassell - 38' Hitting Out
Sin Bin : Rovers #18 Adam Saynor - 40' Interference
Sent Off : Rovers #4 Danny Glassell - 42' Dangerous Tackle