Rovers comeback to retain BARLA National Cup
THE ACE INSURANCE (EUROPE) BARLA NATIONAL CUP FINAL
SHARLSTON ROVERS 26
HUNSLET OLD BOYS 16
At LoveRugbyLeague.com Stadium, Batley Bulldogs RLFC
Sharlston Rovers of Wakefield are the proud winners of the Ace Insurance (Europe) BARLA National Cup in a game of two halves after coming from a 16-8 deficit to defeat Hunslet Old Boys 26-16.
The win see’s Rovers playing in their fourth consecutive final become the fifth side to win back to back finals in the history of the competition, and they became the first side over the five games this weekend to win playing down field in the first half.
Still trailing by two points with ten minutes remaining two quickfire converted tries in three minutes broke the Old Boys hearts, as Rovers who finished runners up to them in the Pennine League Premier Division, finished the season with a two wins to one success rate, in a game which was too close to call before the action began.
In a game were all thirty four gave their all Rovers prop Scott Emblem was outstanding in a man of the match display were he led from the front in both driving forward, putting the big hits in both in attack and defence.
With the heavy having stopped, Rovers who had played on the infamous slope of Batley a few weeks ago got off to a great start (as in last year’s final) against an initial hesitant Old Boys. From a play in the ball in their opponents half Steven Dooler passed outside to half back partner Thomas Wandless whose angled run saw him crash over for the opener.
Scott Glassell kicked the first of his five goals which included a penalty on ten minutes to give his side an 8-0 lead.
The Old Boys came back into the game on the back of penalty after 14 minutes with their first meaningful charge of the game. An attack starting from out wide came infield and fullback Luke O’ Malley crashed onto the ball stepping through defenders to score and Rocky Price added the extras to cut the lead to two points.
Glassell had a chance to increase the lead to four points via a penalty but he narrowly missed.
The Old Boys came back and scored the try of the match on 21 minutes when following a penalty they chose to run it rather than go for the two points. Rovers had held firm for five drives when a high crossfield bomb to the corner was brilliant caught by winger Pat Banks who dived over in the same movement which took the crowds breath away sending them into the lead for the first time at 10-8.
A minute later the Old Boys Jamie Bradley made a great break down the middle but with runners on either side chose to go alone and run and was tackled thirty metres out. The attack fizzled out as they then lost the ball.
The Old Boys were getting on top and increased their lead in the final minute of the half. From a penalty they once again decided to run it and delightful quick hands saw the ball moved out wide for winger Danny Harrison to score in the corner and Price’s touchline conversion made it 16-8.
From the restart a handling error saw them drop out to the Rovers but they held firm as the whistle went.
Given what had happened in the previous four games the Old boys looked favourites but once again the cup holders started strongly on the front foot to score their second try of the game after the Old Boys had kicked straight into touch on the last tackle. Rovers attacked down their right channel and centre Gareth Davies found his winger Jack Kirkmond who swept in at the corner to make it 16-12 on 43 minutes.
Rovers began taking the game to the Old Boys and only a brilliant ball steal by Carl Briggs stopped Glassell from levelling the game up. It was a game of drives nip and tuck by both sides with the Rovers slowly gaining control but unable to score.
The defining moment of the game came after Old Boys Jamie Fields had knocked on from the resulting scrum Rovers Glassell quick footed jink saw him score and add the extras on 70 minutes for his side to retake the lead 18-16.
Sensing they had found the momentum on their next set Rovers moved upfield and from a crossfield bomb Kirkmond crossed in the corner for his brace with the Old Boys questioning if he had stepped out of touch on the build up. Glassell’s superb touchline conversion gave them a crucial eight point buffer.
The Old Boys who were playing in their first final tried to respond but couldn’t penetrate the Rovers line and following a bit of ill discipline Rovers had the last word with the last kick of the game a penalty from Glassell to make it 26-16.
SHARLSTON ROVERS: Geoff Hick, Jack Kirkmond, Gareth Davies, Lee Lingard, Luke Belcher, Steven Dooler, Thomas Wandless, Sean Emblem, Scott Glassell, Chris Bingham, Brian Sutton, Sam Ellam, Adam Saynor. Subs: Lee Bettinson, Tom Crowther, Jamie Milburn, Nick Taylor.
Tries: Wandless, Kirkmond 2, Glassell
Goals: Glassell 5/7
HUNSLET OLD BOYS: Luke O’Malley, Danny Harrison, Ricky Hazelwood, Kieren Murphy, Pat Banks, Andy Hillock, Rocky Price, Craig Miles, Jamie Bradley, Jamie Fields, Mark Holmes, Mark Stubley, Sam Thorpe. Subs: Josh Murphy, Wayne Foster, Jonny Bradley, Carl Briggs.
Tries: O’Malley, Banks, Harrison,
Goals: Price 2/3
Referee: Sam Ansell
Touch Judges: Dean Bowner, Neil Pascall
Fourth Official: Callum Straw
Man of the Match: Sean Emblem (Sharlston Rovers)