Saints push Rovers all the way
St Joesphs .. 10
Sharlston Rovers .. 20
Pennine Premier League
Sharlston Rovers remain unbeaten in the Pennine premier and head the table, but it was nip and tuck in periods as the host St Joesphs proved to be a hurdle that could have tripped Rovers title aspirations.
The opening period of the game was all Rovers as they raced into a commanding 10 nil lead. A stunning opening try for Jonathan Waddle with quick hands down the right flank and winger Dale Ferris punting ahead for Waddle to touchdown showed inclining of a big score for the visitors. From almost the returning set Sharlston showed the matching force down the same channel with aussie center Brad Chatfield scoring his debut try for the Rovers, Dale Ferris slotted over the 2 pointer with ease.
At this stage it looked as though the game was in the bad and Rovers would return with a comfortable score but the Fartown based side who have improved immeasurably under the guidance of Leeds Rhinos and GB center Keith Senior had other ideas.
Within 4 minutes St Joes had replied with the hosts stand out player Lee St Hilare crossing out wide to leave Joes 6 points adrift. It could have got even closer as Sharlston had to roll their sleeves and get stuck into some gruelling defence. The Rovers packmen got through a mountain of defence with Emblem, Booth, Hodgson and Miles and the only way Saints looked like scoring was through their pacey backs.
On the stroke of half time the hosts almost regained parity as danger man Lee St Hilare went tearing down touch side but safe as houses full back Geoff Hick covered superbly bundling the center into touch.
Rovers endeavoured to restart the second period like the first and Carl Saville and Lee Maskill made several opportunities but Rovers couldn’t land the killer blow. On the hour the introduction of Chris Hill on the wing resulted in a try with his first touch as Miles spotted the gap and floated the pass out wide for a comfortable score.
With only 10 minutes remaining the game really turned on its head when Rovers allowed St Hilare to gather some speed from the kick return going the length of the field before passing to in support Leon Alexis to finish under the sticks, the goal pulling the hosts with 4 points.
Any hopes of a comeback through were suddenly lost as captain Craig Miles took the game into his hands feigning a kick through before backing his upper body strength to score despite attentions of several defenders, Ferris successfully added the goal to go add a comfortable 10 point buffer that last till the full time whistle.
It was almost impossible to name one person for a man of the match performance with not many Rovers having a bad game but Tommy Crowther made an notable impact from the bench along with fellow packmen Andy Booth, Phil Hodgson and Jonathan Waddle.
The exceptional defensive effort will stand rovers in good stead for the coming weekend where they will host 3rd place NCL premier side York Acorn in the BARLA national cup, kick off 2.00pm.
Player-coach Lee Bettison is under no illusion of what it will take to get into the next round saying “We have had some good team performances recently but we’re still only playing at 70% of our potential, it will take a huge effort but its definitely achievable. We opened our preseason with a friendly against them and despite a rusty performance we didn’t lose by many. Our squad has strengthened since then and the whole squad is up for selection and with the Yorkshire cup final looming they are all looking for a big game to earn their shirt.”
Men of the match : 3. #1 Geoff Hick 2. #10 Phil Hodgson 1. #15 Tommy Crowther
Coaches man of match : #12 Jonathan Waddle
Top Tackler : Craig Miles (34 tackles)
Most go forward : Phil Hodgson (21 drive)