Rovers to do it tough after Trojans defeat
Thornhill Trojans .. 23
Sharlston Rovers .. 22
The Pennine Premier title race was blown wide open this weekend as title runners Sharlston Rovers and Drighlington both suffered shock defeats contenders Hunslet Old Boys and Queens both posted victories which sees them sneak just a head of Rovers who have games in hand.
Rovers could have made their chances of top spot much more secure with the points from a Thornhill victory but a lapse in concentration and abnormally soft defence in the first half meant Rovers were chasing the game throughout.
Despite missing Bingham, McHugh, Gamble, Dooler, Richardson and Malyan through injury and Mallinder, Waddle, and Barnett through work commitments Sharlston assembled a team capable of coming home with the points in the Trojans last game of the season and started the brighter when Lingard followed up a Phil Hill break.
Thornhill soon replied when a jaded looking Rovers defence allowed Scrum Half Adam Bates to ghost through the middle from the base of the scrum to level the scores. The hosts then took the lead when Rovers guilty of ambling around in defence, electing to not contest a high bomb instead covering the would be Trojans catcher. The bounce of the ball bamboozled Rovers and winger Johnson collected and raced under the sticks to take the lead.
Sharlston had chances to hit back but where thwarted on several occasions, Scott Glassell getting over the whitewash but the official deeming the Rovers captain held up over the line.
Rovers efforts were dealt a low blow when turning over the ball within the Trojans ten meters they were marched 60 meters down field first for being offside and then not getting back the 10 from a quick tap. Danny Ratcliffe took advantage of the easy yardage and made tired markers pay from a quick play of the ball. To add salt to the wound Thornhill came back at Rovers and with only a minute left till the interval added a drop goal from Bates to go 9 points ahead.
Stern words from coach Gordie Long seemed to spur Rovers into action as returning from injury Tommy Burns went close to touching down. After a first half of being on the receiving end of the referees whistle the tide seemed to have turned in Rovers favour as Thornhill tried to spoil the tactics of a quick ruck. After being held up once previously replacement front rower Tommy Crowther couldn’t be stopped has he ploughed over the line, Jackson converting to bring the visitors within 5 points.
A determined run from captain Scott Glassell put Rovers into the driving seat as he broke from his own half shrugging off several tackles to get to within 20 meters. Despite being felled Thornhill couldn’t complete the tackle and Glassell was able to offload to hooker Chris Aiton who was in support. Jackson once again goaled and Rovers took a slender point lead still with 25 mins of the match left.
Ten minutes before the final whistle Thornhill regained the lead when Rovers lost possession in their own 10 meters with Trojans being awarded a scrum for a knock on despite several hands forcing the ball free. Rovers couldn’t hold the hosts out as Danny Ratcliffe sneaked around the napping markers, Bates converted and Thornhill were back 5 points clear 23-18.
Rovers never gave in and with 5 minutes remaining gave them self a chance of going infront. Rovers spread the ball to prolific try scorer Gareth Davies who at first was held out. Sharlston scrum half Tom Wandless looked to go back to the middle and but back tracked into highly congested play of the ball and supplied Davies who beat his man and crossed in the corner. Ian Jackson was unable to post the touchline conversion which would have seen them take the lead once more.
A grandstand finish was on the cards as Sharlston pushed themselves into scoring distance and pressed for the match winning score. Rovers attacked the right once more and Lingard got over the whitewash but was held up. With the clock ticking down Davies put kick through for himself but the Trojans winger played at and knocked on trying to collect and race clear. The Thornhill winger then instigated a minor fracas to wind the clock down but the match official said Sharlston were the initiators and Rovers were denied their last ditch attempt of rescuing the points.
Rovers will now have to do it the hard way if they are to take the Pennine Premier title and not drop more than 2 points in their remaining 5 games vs Queens, Drighlington, Queensbury and Hunslet Old Boys both home and away.
The next week is imperative for Rovers chances and many will look at this Saturdays fixture at Hunslet Old Boys as the marker of who will take top spot, kick off 2:30pm. Rovers will have to back up this Saturdays tough fixture with another testing away tie midweek (Wednesday 24th) at Drighlington kick off 7pm. Sharlston welcome back Gamble, McHugh, Richardson, Mallinder and Waddle into team selections.
12’ TRY #11 Lee Lingard GOAL #1 Ian Jackson 0-6
17’ TRY #7 Adam Bates GOAL #7 Adam Bates 6-6
20’ TRY #20 Adam Johnson GOAL #7 Adam Bates 12-6
36’ TRY #6 Danny Ratcliffe 16-6
39’ DROP GOAL #7 Adam Bates 17-6
- HT -
48’ TRY #8 Tommy Crowther GOAL #1 Ian Jackson 17-12
55’ TRY #9 Chris Aiton GOAL #1 Ian Jackson 17-18
68’ TRY #6 Danny Ratcliffe GOAL #7 Adam Bates 23-18
72’ TRY #3 Gareth Davies 23-22
Pennine Premier Results
Queensbury 8, Hunslet Old Boys 32
Queens 30, Dewsbury Moor 0 walkover
Slaithwaite Saracens 25, Drighlington 18
Wibsey Warriors 24, Halifax Irish 18
Sat 20th April – Away vs Hunslet Old Boys (Pennine League) 2.30pm
Wed 24th April – Away vs Drighlington (Pennine League) 7pm
Sat 27th April – Home vs Queensbury (Pennine League) 2.30pm
Tue 30th April – Away vs Queens (Pennine League) 7pm
Mon 6th May – Pennine Cup Final vs Drighlington @ Batley Bulldogs 3.30pm
Sat 11th May – Away v Nevison Leap (BARLA National Cup Semi) 2.30pm
Weds 15th May – Wakefield Presidents Cup Sharlston Rovers v Westgate Wolves @ Belle Vue, Wakefield 7.30pm
Sat 15th June – BARLA National Cup Final @ Fylde RUFC , Blackpool
Pennine Premier Table
1 Queens 16 10 2 4 442 283 159 22
2 Hunslet Old Boys 15 10 2 3 395 253 142 22
3 Sharlston Rovers 13 10 0 3 436 201 235 20
4 Drighlington 14 9 1 4 268 161 107 19