Rovers through to Yorkshire Cup Final after thriller
Drighlington .. 12
Sharlston Rovers .. 14
Utmost Insurance Yorkshire Cup
Sharlston Rovers are through to the Yorkshire cup final for a second consecutive year having seen off Pennine league bogey side Drighlington. Rovers’ last season passage to the final saw the Weeland Road men comfortably progress to final with a 46-20 victory but this years encounter on Drig’s own battlefield proved to be a nail biting spectacle that went right to final whistle with the astute Rovers defence being made to work hard right into the closing stages.
In comparison to the closing squeaky bum period, the visitors opened the match in fine attacking form and scoring commenced 11 minutes in as Jonathan Waddle made light work of the attention of 4 Drighlington defenders, wingman Dale Ferris improving the second rower’s tremendous effort.
By 20 minutes Rovers had established a 12 point lead this time influential hooker Carl Saville took control of the rook bamboozling the markers to scoot over from acting half, Ferris once again added the extras.
The hosts who were attacking up the steep incline continued to press to reduce the deficit and despite being dominant in the middle of the field the Rovers defence couldn’t stretch to the flanks, Drig making the most of the extra man on touchside, the conversion attempt unsuccessful.
Rovers were aware that an 8 point lead probably wasn’t going to be enough of a lead whilst defending the slope in the second half and made all efforts to post another try, a flowing move did just that as Byrom crossed in the corner only to be pulled back for a controversial forward pass.
The opening exchanges of the second half proved to be a warning for what was in store as Drighlington threw everything at Sharlston in the campaign to regain parity. When Rovers held possession they were pinned to their own half as they struggled to break Drighlington’s half. A brief spell of territory was turned into points when Rovers were awarded a penalty when Drig tried to slow the play of the ball, Dale Ferris converted to add the what would turn out to be, important 2 points.
On the hour mark the Rovers line was breached when Drig drew the defenders under the posts before again taking advantage of the gap out wide. 5 minutes later the game was in the balance as the hosts came back to within 2 points with another try, the all important game tying conversion going wide to the agony of the home supporters.
With 15 minutes remaining and Rovers holding only a 2 point lead Drighlington put the visitors under some intense pressure but the whole team pulled together to hold out any advance thrown at them and with more possession started to turn the ball over deep in the hosts half. It was to be a nip and tuck close to the semi final as Drighlington came within inches of a finalists place.
The last play of the game made the visitors fans hearts skip a beat as Drighlington looked to be in under the posts only to be felled by Sean Emblem and Carl Saville to save their place in the Yorkshire cup final.
Elsewhere Queens were unable to secure a replay of last years final as they lost out to Dean Sampson’s Hunslet Warriors, the victory sets up a Yorkshire v Pennine league table top showdown scheduled to take place Sunday 28th December at Chris Moyles Stadium, Featherstone.
Head Coach Gordy Long praised his team saying “It was a massive effort from our guys, we looked comfortable with ball in hand for the first half but that slope is a real leveller, the second half was a real slog to get out of our own half but the lads soaked up a mountain pressure and were well deserved victors. We will now look to prepare for the big day and build some good form to take into the final.”
Remaining on cup duty Sharlston Rovers make the small trip to Queen Elizabeth Drive to take on neighbours Normanton Knights A in the Wakefield ARL UNISON presidents cup for the campaign to retain the trophy for 6th consecutive season, kick off 2pm.
Semi Final Results
Drighlinton 12, Sharlston 14
Hunslet Warriors 24, Queens 18