Tier 4 Regional League round-up
LONDON & SOUTH EAST
It was cup final day in the region with LONDON SKOLARS A beating PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS 56-10 to take the Challenge Cup Trophy at the New River Stadium in north London. There was very little to choose between the teams after a tough opening quarter. Portsmouth opening the scoring with a well worked try, moving the ball smartly from right to left enabling Christian Jones to squeeze over in the corner. Canadian international prop Louis Robinson responded for Skolars with Jermaine Coleman converting to give them a 6-4 lead. The Seahawks hit the front again when Kurt Barnes scooted over and Wayne John added the extras but midway through the half Skolars hit the front again with Coleman converting Alex Bute’s touchdown to make it 12-10. The London side began to take control and two tries from hard-running former Birmingham prop Austen Aggrey, both converted by Coleman, gave them a 24-10 lead at the break. In the second half it was all one-way traffic as Skolars racked up 32 points without reply to take the trophy. Stand off Coleman notched up 20 points with two-try prop Robinson claiming the Man of the Match award.
It was a much tighter affair in the Challenge Shield with ST IVES ROOSTERS taking on SUSSEX MERLINS. The Roosters led by just two points going into the last 10 minutes but stand off Paul Ashbridge wrapped things up for the Cambridgeshire side with a fine individual effort to give them a 26-18 victory.
WEST OF ENGLAND
Three tries and five goals from Sam Goatley saw GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS A to a 50-20 win over SWINDON ST GEORGE at Sandyleaze. The visitors mounted something of a comeback in the second half but two late tries saw the Warriors home. Swindon opened the scoring in the third minute through Ben Bridson but the Warriors hit back through Matt Williams. Matt Peachment extended the Warriors’ lead before three tries in five minutes before the break from Goatley with a brace and Jerome Moore eased the home side 28-4 ahead. Bridson pulled a try back for St George early in the second half but the Warriors extended their advantage further through Ash Lewis and brother Dan and a conversion from dad, Kirk before Swindon hit back. Tries from Shaun Kemble and Carl Baker, both goaled by Bridson gave the Warriors a real scare but long range efforts from Goatley and Ash Lewis sealed the win.
WALNEY CENTRAL moved second in Division One after coming out on top 36-24 at HAYDOCK. The league leading Merseysiders had won nine straight games but were sent spinning to their first defeat of the campaign thanks to a six-try show from their Barrow-based visitors who now move up to second place. The game was three minutes old when Dean Dollin raced over for Walney and the full-back repeated the feat seven minutes later, before adding the extras to open up a 10-0 lead. Prop Dave Warne crashed over for a converted 13th minute touchdown to bring the hosts back into the contest, although the visitors refused to lie down and managed a third try when scrum-half Jordan Gibson danced over for a score that was improved by Karl Dingsdale. The points continued in an end-to-end contest as Andy Litherland burst clear for a score that David Nicholson again improved, but Walney deservedly grabbed the final points of the first half as second rower Danny Gee crashed over. Dingsdale again improved matters and in doing so made it 22-12 at the break. With confidence high Walney came out quickest again in the second half and increased their advantage as Dingsdale tagged on the extras to centre Darel Rotheram’s try. With their unbeaten run under threat Haydock dug deep and did muster a second from Litherland that was improved by the boot of Nicholson, however, a penalty from Dingsdale and a second from Rotheram – this time improved by Dollin – meant Nicholson’s conversion of his own late score was nothing more than a consolation.
The Division Four clash between FOLLY LANE and BURTONWOOD BRIDGE went the way of the visitors 26-18. There was little to choose between the sides in the first period with the hosts narrowly leading 6-4 at half-time. Centre Dave Jordan’s 28th minute effort – converted by Martin Scholes – saw Folly Lane hit the front, but with seven minutes of the half left Bridge got back into the match thanks to a touchdown from winger Andy McLorie. The visitors were ahead eight minutes into the second period as Ben Hardman went over, but that joy was short lived as Dean Critchley’s conversion of Alan McNally’s effort put the Lane back in front. A quick-fire double from Liam Batty and Mike Hesketh – which were improved by McLorie – put Burtonwood in the driving seat and despite Scholes improving a 72nd minute try from centre Dave Jordan, McLorie’s conversion of a Gary Lockhead touchdown two minutes from time sealed it.
NORTH DEVON RAIDERS bounced back from the disappointment of last weekend's South West Cup Final defeat to claim the South West Minor Premiership with a 26-22 win over second placed DEVON SHARKS to reach their first Grand Final on August 19th. Again, it was Will Topps who proved to be the difference, scoring 22 of his side’s points with four tries and three goals including an amazing effort where he received the ball on the left touchline and beat the whole of the Sharks side on an arcing run which saw him touch down just inside the right hand corner flag. Raiders led 12-10 at the break in a hard fought affair with a number of flashpoints dealt with by referee Derek Blackburn before three Topps tries, replied by a brace of Russell Morris touchdowns, gave the hosts their first title in their three year history.
Three late tries gave PLYMOUTH TITANS’ hopes of a play off spot a boost despite going down 70-32 to EXETER CENTURIONS at Flowerpots Field. With both sides fighting for the third play off spot, the late rally means that the Titans will sneak into third place if they can beat the Raiders by seven points in the final game of the regular season next Saturday.
AYRSHIRE STORM’S championship dreams are over after they were soundly beaten 50-18 by EDINBURGH EAGLES in the capital. Storm threatened an upset in the early stages when Connor Turnbull crossed in the opening exchanges and full back Scott Robertson went between the posts to counter a Colin Anderson try, Ross Bryan’s conversion putting the visitors 10-4 up. But after a nip and tuck 20 minutes thereafter, winger Craig Robertson’s try and a Seb Trotter conversion levelled matters and the Eagles added further touchdowns from props Terry Skeet and Roddy MacKenzie to lead 18-10 at the break. A Tom Murray brace, bracketing a try by skipper Ross Brady converted by Daryl Bulcher, made it 32-10 after 51 minutes. Scott Robertson replied for the defiant Storm, Bryan goaling but that proved to be consolation as centre Calum Cockburn, MacKenzie with a second and Dave Vernon on the last play added four pointers, all converted by Bulcher to bring up the half century. Eagles will now face Aberdeen Warriors in the Grand Final.
SKIRLAUGH kept up the pressure at the top of the Premier Division with a hard-fought 22-16 at OULTON RAIDERS. Tries from Joe Hall, Robert Blakeborough and James Higginbottom were all converted by Ross Kemp as the Hull side stormed into an 18-0 lead inside the opening half hour. However, the resurgent Raiders hit back with touchdowns to Lawrence Dibb and Luke Richardson, plus a Danny Mackintosh goal, to make it 18-10 at the break. The second period proved to be a real arm-wrestle with both packs working overtime. Brendan Grey’s 43rd minute effort for Skirlaugh was cancelled out seven minutes later by James Cruickshank’s try and Mackintosh’s second conversion, and that was how it stayed as the visitors moved up to second spot and kept the pressure on leaders Fryston Warriors.
NORMANTON KNIGHTS came out on top with a thrilling 21-18 success over KNOTTINGLEY ROCKWARE in a derby encounter to savour. The top of the table clash in Group 5 certainly lived up to its billing, with the Knights surviving a stirring second half comeback from the visitors to claim the points and move within two points of them. The hosts were the better side in the first half as they crossed for three well worked tries. Hooker Levi Price grabbed the games first points with a 6th minute effort, although the visitors responded four minutes later as some great handling allowed winger Joe Clements enough space to cross out wide. Stung into action the Knights dominated the remainder of the half. Great footwork from Tim Robinson saw the centre cross for his sides second four-pointer and with winger Joe Crossland adding the extras and then a penalty, Normanton were in control at 12-4. The Knights continued to have the better of the exchanges and a minute before the break Crossland roared in to increase his side’s advantage.
Trailing 16-4 it was important for Knottingley to score next and they did. A minute into the second half, hooker Paul Downey – who impressed all game – supported well to touch down, and the gap was reduced even further when winger Liam Fradley benefited from more great handling to cross. With the game now back in the balance Crossland held his nerve to slot over a 67th minute penalty to get the home side moving, before brother Jacob also got in on the act as he found the target with a drop goal two minutes later. A third penalty from Crossland made the game safe, although Knights were made to sweat when Downey’s second was converted by stand-off Ben Pearson. However, Normanton held on for the final four minutes for a valuable win