Wigan St Cuthberts 22 Sharlston Rovers 16 - National Cup Quarter Final
Wigan St Cuthberts .. 22 (14)
Sharlston Rovers .. 16 (10)
Ace Insurance BARLA National Cup – Quarter Final
Sharlston Rovers progression in the National cup fell by the wayside this weekend as Wigan St Cuthberts ended an impressive run of 24 games unbeaten by amateur opposition.
Rovers were looking to make the semi finals of the BARLA blue ribband competition and write a new chapter in the clubs history by progressing past the last 8 stage. North West Counties Premier side Wigan St Cuthberts had other ideas with the confidence of an away victory over Skirlaugh. Eerily it was the Hull NCL Premier side that had put Rovers out several times in this leg over the last half a decade.
Attacking up the steep incline Rovers started off the better with fullback Dale Ferris easing the visitors in with a penalty conversion. Rovers were making good field position as Lockwood, Waddle and out of position Emblem ground out the hard yards and only 10 minutes later Maskill broke the line to put Steve Froggett in at the corner.
As Rovers looked to take a hold on the game an enthusiastic home side came back with to square the scores with a neat chip over and collect converted try.
The levelling score seemed to lift the hosts and the introduction of 2 mammoth prop forwards gave them more go forward. Minutes later they went in again with a dropped ball being deemed to gone backwards and collected for an easy score under the posts.
St Cuthberts came on the charge again and Rovers discipline cost them another 2 points as livewire stand-off Dallimore slotted over the penalty to go 8 points ahead.
Rovers resurrected hope of a comeback when minutes before the interval Chris Hill crossed in the corner after a flowing passing move created a gap to bring Sharlston within 4 points of the hosts. The travelling Rovers support remained confident their side could get back in the game in the second half running down the slope with the wind at their backs.
Rovers used the hill to their advantage and soon gained possession in their opponents half but they couldn’t make it pay as they were either held out by the strong defence or the ball frustratingly went to ground.
On the return Rovers had to hold a resolute defence as the big forwards took some bringing down close to the line and on the back of a repeat set Rovers were caught napping as Dallimore went over from acting half for a cheap try that he converted.
Now trailing by 10 Rovers were looking their exit square in the face but they continued to struggle for the comeback with Davies and Lockwood making some enterprising breaks but Rovers couldn’t hold their nerve long enough to seal the killer blow.
The frustration told on Rovers as with only 6 minutes remaining they gave a cheap penalty away near their sticks which Dallimore converted to add more air between the sides.
In the last 5 minutes Rovers threw everything at their hosts in a last chance hope of clawing back the 12 points to take the game into extra time but they could only manage half that with Steve Frogett going in for his second try and Ferris goaling the touchline effort.
An anxious 3 minutes for the home supporters saw Rovers come close but in the panic of being behind Rovers bombed several good chances to get back in the game.
Best for Rovers in a mixed performance was Bingham, Lockwood and just about topping the man of the match Jonathan Waddle sponsored by UNISON.
Rovers still have a chance of making a Blackpool appearance with the National Cup curtain raising competition, the champion of champions series. Sharlston are only one step away from the final with only an away trip to Cumbrian Cup Champions Ellenborough Rangers in their way.
Sharlston will travel to Maryport Easter Saturday 11th April and its hoped the loyal band of support will travel to cheer them on. Supporters bus tickets are now available from the clubhouse and the committee are hoping for an early response so to gauge the possibility of taking 2 buses.
This weekend Rovers are in cup action in the Pennine Presidents cup semi finals where they will host Halifax Irish kick off 2pm. Sharlston will then be in action 3 days later with a midweek Home league fixture on the Tuesday evening with a 7.30pm kick off versus St Josephs.