Rovers seal 4th Yorkshire Cup victory
Sharlston Rovers got their hands on the Hamuel Reichenbacher Yorkshire Cup for the fourth time, but final debutants Nevison Leap pushed them all the way in a thrilling decider.
The Wakefield side’s 24-10 success – at Featherstone Rovers’ Big Fellas Stadium – looked comfortable on the scoreboard, but the destination of the cup was in the balance until the final five minutes, when the hot favourites scored eight points to pull clear.
Pontefract-based Nevison Leap, of the Pennine League’s second tier Championship Division, never led against their Premier opponents, but produced the sort of battling display which suggests they will be competing on level terms next season.
They ran out of steam in the final moments, but matched Rovers for skill and enthusiasm for the most part and their scrambling defence, under huge pressure at times, was outstanding.
Rovers have players who have competed at a higher level and that told in the end, with hooker Dean Gamble’s superb individual performance being rewarded with the man-of-the-match prize.
As usual, the Yorkshire Cup final was a terrific advertisement for amateur rugby league, played in a fine spirit and well controlled by referee Darren Gillespie.
Running down the slope in the first half, Rovers turned around with only a 6-4 interval lead and a huge upset looked to be on the cards, but Rovers had the better of the second 40, despite one or two torrid moments.
Rovers’ Geoff Hick had an early touchdown ruled out for a double movement before Gareth Davies – formerly of Featherstone Rovers and Hunslet Hawks – ran a great line on to Phil Hill’s pass to open the scoring after 35 minutes, Ian Jackson converting.
But Sharlston lost possession from the restart and Luke Thomas went over from Matty Godber’s pass, though Luke Beecher couldn’t add the extras.
Scott Glassell, who had been sin-binned in the first half, went over for Sharlston at the start of the second and Jackson added the conversion, but Leap’s Gareth Dyas had a touchdown disallowed before Kyle Bailey scrambled over and Daniel Richardson’s goal cut the gap to two points with 15 left.
Sean Emblem capped a fine game by storming over from Glassell’s pass on 70, but with the kick missed Leap were still in it until Jackson landed a penalty goal and then converted after Adam Saynor rampaged over for a remarkable solo try in the final seconds.
Rovers’ coach Gordon Long said: “I wasn’t surprised by how strongly Nevison Leap came at us. We had to dig deep in the first half when we were down to 12 men and it was always going to be a forward battle in the conditions.
“I am proud of our players, particularly their second-half display.”
Leap boss Richard Addy was “disappointed at the result, but chuffed to bits with the performance”.
He said: “We can hold our heads high. Sharlston closed the game down towards the end, but we can push on now and hopefully win our division.”
Nevison Leap: Law, Gundill, Jepson, Dunwell, Beecher, Nicholson, Godber, D Richardson, Milton, Thomas, Dyas, Scott Wilson. Thomsen. Subs Bailey, Stranson, C Richardson, Gilbert.
Sharlston Rovers: Jackson, Hick, Davies, Glassell, Sam Wilson, Hill, Wandless, Emblem, Gamble, Bingham, Waddle, Lingard, Glassell. Subs Childs, Crowther, Mallinder, Saynor.
Referee: Darren Gillespie.