Tier 4 Regional League round-up
By Phil Caplan @scratchingshed2
Rain again disrupted the programme with matches at Dyffryn Devils and Newport Titans postponed because of waterlogged pitches.
On Wednesday, BONYMAEN BRONCOS eased to a 36-16 win over VALLEY COUGARS in Treharris to remain unbeaten in their two season history but they survived one of their toughest tests. The visitors took an early 12-0 lead through two Richard Williams tries which were both converted by Ian Brooks. The first of Jason Howells’ hat-trick extended the advantage but the large home crowd had something to cheer when Cougars struck back through Corey Lloyd. Howells went in for Broncos’ fourth after Cougars had a try disallowed but the hosts were determined not to give up. Dafydd Hilliard scored in the corner and Paul Emmanuelli did well to convert to make the score 10-22 at the break. Broncos extended their lead when Nick Clancy went 80 metres before getting caught but Brooks scored from the quick play-the-ball. Their sixth try was a good individual effort from Howells and Clancy completed their scoring but Ieuan Sims grabbed a consolation try at the death which Emmanuelli converted.
Broncos continued their unbeaten run and became only the third team to beat BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS on their home ground with a deserved 46-10 victory on Saturday. The Swansea side were far more constructive and organised than the reigning Champions with the Brooks brothers, Ian and Richard, and loose forward James Bija excelling in both attack and defence. Both sides had opportunities to score in the opening ten minutes before Broncos second rower Dan Griffiths broke free and gave a try scoring pass to Bija with Ian Brooks converting. Richard Lewis looked like he had doubled the lead but he was held up by Rhys Dowling. The Bulls were then dealt a massive blow when Dan Smith had to leave the pitch with broken shoulder and the Broncos then did claim a second try via Richard Williams to make it 10-0. Moments later Nick Clancy went over between the posts after clever play from Rhys Williams, with Ian Brooks again converting. Blue Bulls finally hit back on the half hour when Karl Hocking handed off two tacklers before offloading to debutant winger Joshua Collins and the teenager showed great speed to make it to the line. Broncos responded through Chris Hoppe and Brooks again converted but the final say of the half went to Bull Ken Dowding who barged his way over by the posts, Gareth David adding the extras to make it 10-22 at the break. Bonymaen dominated the second half scoring four more tries to rattle up 46 points, winger Robbie Ford claiming two to cap off a fine performance.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS turned in a poor defensive performance against a previously winless COVENTRY BEARS A to return to the foot of the Premier division after a 54-42 defeat. They shipped in ten tries with the Bears’ powerful forwards scoring all bar one as they broke the home line with ease. They made the fewer mistakes in a game with plenty of errors thanks to the intermittent rain and a pitch saturated by the downpour during the previous game. The Warriors did shine on attack, crossing for nine tries themselves including a hat-trick for Alex Hoyle in a free-scoring encounter affected by the strong wind and sodden conditions underfoot. Indeed, with standing water in one in-goal and the pitch markings having been washed away, there was a danger that the game would be called off but some hasty remedial work ensured it took place.
The Bears powered into an early lead with their forwards making light of the conditions as Mat Catterall crossed in the first minute. George Thompson followed him for the second converted by Greg Loydall before Hoyle produced a sublime chip and re-gather to reply for the Warriors. Tom Hill grabbed the first of his hat-trick to make it 16-4 before Hoyle kept the Warriors in it with his second, Aaron Fowke adding the goal. With halftime approaching, Aaron Tonks dropped a Fowke kick to the corner in the in-goal and the Bears countered, working an overlap for Rhys Clarke to go over. The Warriors replied with Tonks on the end of some excellent handling to trail 22-14 at the change round. Gloucestershire opened the second period brightly and two tries in quick succession from Dale Cook levelled the scores before the Bears took control as Hill, Thompson and Paul Hannah capped a sustained period of possession with tries before Hoyle completed his hat-trick with another clever kick to leave the score 36-28 with a quarter of the game still to go. Ash Lewis went over for the Warriors and Fowke’s goal cut the deficit to two points but restarts were becoming a lottery in the strong wind and Laurence Edwards helped himself to a try straight from the Bears kick-off before adding another on their next attack. Hoyle then set up Josh Pettifer for a try as the Warriors regained their restart kick but the Bears did the same and Hill completed his hat-trick with ten minutes left, Loydall adding his seventh goal. Warriors claimed the 19th and final try of an amazing game through Kieran Cox as, almost incredibly, there was no further scoring in the last few minutes of the contest and the Bears overtake the Warriors to climb up to third in the table.
Close games were the order of the day in Division 1 as NOTTINGHAM OUTLAWS got their season back on track after three straight defeats with a 24-14 win over WOLVERHAMPTON. A flowing right to left move 20 metres out saw Outlaw Dave Garland open the scoring, Lawry Cook adding the extras. Phil Artley showed a clean pair of heals to bag a brace shortly afterwards, allowing Cook two easy conversions, pushing the home side further in front. Jamie Dinning collected Matt Nixon’s offload to crash in at the corner, with Cook again successful with the boot. Wolverhampton found their way back into the game just before the break with a well deserved score from Ash Harris. The second half went the way of the Black Country men, with the Wolves capitalising on poor ball retention by the Outlaws. Prop Aidan Cheshire barged over to double their score and Harris again found his way to the line. The Wolves dug deep, but the Outlaws defence rallied and held off the comeback to take the win.
TELFORD RAIDERS served up a classic against high-flying SLEAFORD SPARTANS with Raiders hooker Liam Evans bagging hat-trick to add to a list of impressive performances this season in a 30-20 success. He was outdone by Spartans’ Ian Walker who scored all four of their tries. Evans provided the first two scores for the Raiders, jinking through on both occasions on the back of Sleaford penalties. Ben Lewis added the conversion at the second attempt. The Raiders failed to turn the screw in the slippery conditions and Spartans’ anchor-man Walker brought them back into the game, with a rapid fire brace to bring the half time score to 10-8. Raiders veteran Paul Szehofner danced through the defence as he found space out wide, giving Stefan Hildred with the conversion. Ryan Home won the Raiders a penalty, giving Evans the platform he needed to add his third score, with Hildred again accurate with the boot. Not to be out done, Walker crossed for the Spartans to earn him a treble, converting his own score. Former GB Community Lion Matt Evans stormed his way through the middle to give Telford some breathing space, which was again reduced as Walker found his way to the line. With time running out, replacement hooker Pom Tutt bamboozled the Spartans defence to make certain the Raiders victory.
In Division 1, NORTHAMPTON DEMONS A racked up 52 points in a high scoring affair with Coventry Dragons.
In Division 2, HOPE VALLEY HAWKS defeated Derbyshire rivals DRONFIELD DRIFTERS 46-10, Richard Pitchfork and debutant Mark McDaid crossing for the visitors, while COVENTRY WARRIORS lost out at home to BEDFORD TIGERS A, 6-28.
SOUTH WEST @SouthWestRL
There is a four way tie at the top at the half way stage of the season. NORTH DEVON RAIDERS lost their unbeaten record in monsoon conditions at Easterfield Lane, going down 42-22 to the resurgent DEVON SHARKS whilst EXETER CENTURIONS shocked PLYMOUTH TITANS on their own patch, returning home 48-18 victors. The Raiders struggled to contain the big Sharks forward pack despite taking a second minute lead through Will Topps as a combination of a heavy pitch, gale force winds and driving rain made open football difficult. Sharks led 30-18 at the break but, as the weather improved slightly, the visitors battled bravely only to be thwarted by great Sharks goal line defence, the Raiders being held up over the line on five occasions in the second period. The Sharks made the most of the chances, scoring two tries to one in the second half to close out the game 42-22 and move off the bottom of the table. Exeter bounced back from a thrashing last weekend at the hands of the Sharks to record a great win at Stonehouse Creek against a Plymouth Titans struggling to regain their pre season form which saw them win the South West Nines. The win puts the Centurions third on the table on point’s difference behind the Raiders and Exmouth Saints.
AYRSHIRE STORM braved wet conditions to run out comfortable 32-18 winners over EASTERHOUSE PANTHERS at Marress. Tries from Ruchin Filander, Scott Rodgers and Scott Robertson gave the home side a healthy 14-0 lead after half an hour, Ross Bryan goaling one but the Panthers hit back with two tries through second rower Stephen Connolly and scrum half Chad McGlame to trail by only two points at half time, Louie Senter successful with the conversions. Storm regained the initiative early in the second half with tries through Gene Munro and substitute Adam Campbell, Bryan adding the extras to the former and, despite the deteriorating weather, made the game safe with further touchdowns to Alistair Maxwell and Robertson’s second. Panthers grabbed a consolation with Connolly’s brace converted by Steven McCarter.
Also in the Central Division, EDINBURGH EAGLES were too strong for ABERDEEN WARRIORS, winning 70-0 and FIFE LIONS defeated VICTORIA KNIGHTS 40-16.
In the North, EDINBURGH EAGLES and ABERDEEN WARRIORS shared a thrilling 24-all draw while in the MORAY derby, the EELS beat the TITANS 54-26.
NORTH EAST @NErugbyleague
The region hosted their inaugural Premier division “Magic Weekend” and it was judged a great success. The day opened up with a re-run of last year’s Grand Final between PETERLEE PUMAS and JARROW VIKINGS and Jarrow signalled their intent racing away to a 26-0 lead on the back of some Pumas indiscipline. Graham Lupton showed his experience leading the Vikings around the park. Peterlee hit back with a score late in the first half but Jarrow had the final say when Andy Morris touched down a fine individual effort. The first half lead proved to be enough of a cushion as both teams traded scores in the second period and with Pumas being reduced to 12 men, the task was just too much although Michael McDougall was outstanding throughout, Jarrow the eventual winners 54-22.
The second game was a classic Tyne/Wear derby as SUNDERLAND and WALLSEND EAGLES played out an end to end thriller. Sunderland opened the scoring in the third minute before Wallsend hit back moments later, before tempers flared just before half time. Both teams were reduced to 12 men and from the resulting penalty Eagles took their first lead of the game on the stroke of half time, 20-16. Wallsend started the second period the brighter extending their lead further but Sunderland refused to lie down, and drew the scores level with two tries from Dan Rundle. A quick fire brace from Sunderland, which were both goaled, then proved to be the difference after Eagles touched down twice but failed to convert leaving Sunderland the victors, 38-34.
The final game saw a GATESHEAD derby as SPARTANS went head to head with STORM who opened the scoring first with Dan Mole continuing his fine scoring run touching down out wide. Spartans hit back through Callum Turnbull who converted his own effort to put them ahead. Storm took the lead when player/coach Gareth Barron crashed over on the half hour but Spartans regained it on the stroke of half time through Anthony Kennedy, again Turnbull’s boot extending their lead. After the interval it was Spartans who scored first with Gary Maddison racing clear from distance to take it to 18-8 and despite a massive penalty count against them, Storm showed their resilience in defence and attacking flair scoring 28 unanswered points in as many minutes, with Barron grabbing his second, Jack Doran, Jamie Diggle, Andy Robinson and man of the match Scott Woods also crossing, to take the spoils 36-18.
LONDON & SOUTH EAST @LondonRL
On Cup weekend, ELMBRIDGE EAGLES travelled to blustery Bridgewater to take on SOMERSET VIKINGS in the National Tier 4 Community Shield and came away with an emphatic 36-8 victory. The home side began in determined fashion but some sterling defensive work kept them at bay. As the game progressed, Elmbridge began to dominate and despite losing three players to injury went in at half time with a 26-4 lead. With the advantage of a strong wind at their backs the Vikings struck early in the second half. However more good defensive work continued to thwart the home side. Despite being down to the bare 13 the Eagles managed two more tries to seal the win. Joe Cripps completed his hat trick which earned him the man of the match award while skipper Doug Rodman led his team magnificently in an intensely physical contest.
In the London S/E and East Challenge Cup quarter finals, MEDWAY DRAGONS came close to causing a real upset at home to unbeaten Premier outfit PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS before eventually going down 42-34. In difficult conditions controlling the ball was never going to be easy and an early fumble by the visitors led to Ben Shears opening the scoring for Medway. It was nip and tuck for the rest of the half with the Dragons just keeping their noses in front 18–16 at the interval. They found themselves under pressure early in the second half but managed to keep their line intact and eventually increase their lead thanks to Tom Coyd’s second touchdown. That converted try put them eight points ahead but then the Seahawks upped their game scoring 26 unanswered points to move into the semi-finals. Medway had the final say with Coyd completing his hat trick, Dan Smart and Chris John the Dragon’s other try scorers.
In the other matches GREENWICH ADMIRALS beat BURY TITANS 18-0 and LONDON SKOLARS A –who included Frank Bruno’s son Franklin - overcame WEST LONDON SHARKS by the same score.
WEST OF ENGLAND
Wins for GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS A over BRISTOL SONICS A and OXFORD CAVALIERS against SWINDON ST GEORGE mean that all five teams in the West of England division have four points from four games with point’s difference deciding the placings. At Sandyleaze, the Warriors overcame the Sonics 28-16 in a very good game despite much of the second period being played in a torrential downpour. The Warriors always held the initiative after dominating early play and taking the lead through an Arron Almond try converted by Sam Goatley. Sonics levelled through a Mike Reed effort converted by Lewis Allan before Sam Rees and Des Gahan scored to put the Warriors in front again. Dan Stuart-Cummins crossed just before the break to leave the game poised at 16-10. However, the Warriors adapted better to the monsoon conditions, Barney Goatley and George Boughton scoring unconverted tries to extend their lead further. Stuart-Cummins’ well-taken reply for the Sonics was immediately cancelled out by a Neil Culley try for the home side who held on to win.
A strong second half showing from the Oxford Cavaliers saw them to a 40-24 win over Swindon St George. Coming towards half-time, Swindon had a slender 20-18 lead thanks to tries from Mike Thompson, Richard White, Mike Keeley and Ben Bridson and a James Slatter goal but the Cavaliers crossed right on the whistle for a 24-20 advantage and upped the tempo in the second period, scoring four unanswered tries. Keeley’s second score late in the game was little consolation for a disappointed St George outfit.
In a re-arranged Premier League derby fixture, SKIRLAUGH BULLS hung on to defeat WEST HULL LIONS 20-16 in a thriller. Although Skirlaugh edged their noses in front on 63 minutes, the outcome was in the balance until excellent referee Chris Dean blew his whistle to end the contest. It was the visitors who elected to play with the howling gale behind their backs in the opening half, but the first real action saw their stand off Lewis Colrein dispatched to the sin bin for tripping on seven minutes. The Bulls, seeking to take advantage, then had tries from centre Lee Hall and hooker Joe Hall ruled out for knock-ons over the line and they paid the price when the visitors took the lead on 16 minutes through substitute Mike Caville, Shane Carter adding the extra's. The Bulls drew level on 24 minutes with the try of the game when a kick on the last by Rob Blakebrough held up in the wind for Lamb to re-gather and make ground before feeding Joe Hall, who found Higgingbotham and great support play from Hall saw him go in by the posts, leaving Rob Brown a simple task to level the scores.
Wests again edged back in front straight from the kick off as they forced a dropout and penalty and substitute Joe Staples forced his way over by the side of the posts, with Carter again converting. In an end to end contest, Skirlaugh reduced the deficit to two points when after severe pressure to the visitor’s line and after impressive second rower Gary Prest and then Grimmer had been held up, substitute Travis Jones strode over, making it 12-10 to the visitors at the interval. Wests came out all guns blazing despite being against the elements and further increased their lead with a try four minutes into the second half from loose forward Liam Crooks after constant pressure on the hosts line. Just after the hour mark Skirlaugh pivot Blakebrough capitalised on a great break and off load from Prest to finish the move off between the posts, leaving Brown a routine task of edging his side in front. The match winning try came from substitute Joe Hodgson three minutes later when he used clever footwork and brute strength to power over from 20 metres and as hard as both teams strived to force the issue both defences stood firm in a dramatic final quarter. Prest was the outstanding performer for the Bulls closely pushed by Brown, whilst Wests Scott Howlett was in equally outstanding form, with great support hooker Johnson.
A Tom Ratcliffe hat trick and brace for Craig Marsden ensured SCARBOROUGH PIRATES maintained their unbeaten record after beating SHEFFIELD HILLSBOROUGH HAWKS 32-20 in an excellent top of the table clash in division four. ROTHERHAM ROOSTERS returned to south Yorkshire with the points after a great 24-18 success at LEEDS AKKIES. The Roosters first win of the season came after a thrilling game which saw the lead exchange hands several times and allowed them to turn the tables on a side who had outplayed them on the opening weekend.
NORMANTON KNIGHTS turned on the style with a 50-0 away win over YORK LOKOMOTIVE. Jacob and Joe Crossland were again in outstanding form for the visitors who returned to winning ways following defeat to Knottingley in their last outing. The Knights’ latest big win now means they average over 40 points a game.
HULL DOCKERS edged an exciting derby encounter over EAST HULL 36-26. The defeat – only Easts second of the campaign – was revenge for Dockers who narrowly lost out to the group leaders last month. KNOTTINGLEY ROCKWARE continue to set the pace in Group 5 after a comfortable 35-6 home win over WESTGATE WOLVES. The host’s fifth straight win sees them lead Walton Warriors on point’s difference, although their Wakefield rivals do have a game in hand. There was a real points-fest in Halifax as GREETLAND ALL ROUNDERS just outscored STANLEY RANGERS 36-32.
In the Cup, Charlie Tosh’s try just after half time was the impetus for WALTON WARRIORS as they defeated SHAW CROSS SHARKS 38-10. Jake Carter gave the Warriors an early lead, cancelled out by Dave Berry’s score for the Sharks. Centre Kev Marson’s touchdown and an Ian Mattison goal edged the hosts ahead and Walton were 16-4 up at the break after Chris Rudge went over, Mattison again adding the extras. Tosh’s 43rd minute effort was followed by a try to martin Brooks as Walton grew in confidence, Shaw Cross showing a spirited response when Declan Naughton crossed on the hour, Berry converting. Carter grabbed a second try for the Warriors and in the final minute man of the match Adam Greaves crossed, Adam Saynor adding the goal.
North West @rugbyleaguenw
In Division One, LEIGH EAST produced a strong performance to overcome the ROOSE PIONEERS 50-14.
Tries from Daniel Aspden, Ryan Peters, Ryan King and Dale Allard put the hosts in a commanding position in the first half; Peters also added three conversions. However, two tries just before half time for Roose from Liam Johns and Joel Williams, with a successful kick by Steve Penny, reduced the half time deficit to 22-10 and gave the Pioneers plenty of room for optimism ahead of the second 40 minutes.
However, East’s were just too strong for them after the break and took full control of the game. Four pointers from Thomas Gaughan, Samuel Grainey, Andrew Gregson and Michael Redford (2), with eight points also added by the boot of Peters, further increased the home side’s advantage. Dave Finlayson did cross for a Roose conciliation late on, but the two points went the way of East’s in their second victory of the campaign.
Elsewhere in Division One, THATTO HEATH CRUSADERS took the bragging rights over WIGAN ST PATRICKS after a 21-12 victory on the road. And in Division Four, ECCLESTON LIONS and FOLLY LANE A served up some great entertainment in their 22-all draw.