Tier 4 Regional League round-up
GRAND FINAL – EDINBURGH EAGLES 36-10 ABERDEEN WARRIORS
Edinburgh Eagles underlined again that they are the team to beat in Scottish rugby league as they clinched their ninth title at Sunnyside.
As Ayrshire Storm had done in last week's semi-final, Aberdeen Warriors threatened early on to turn the tables and claim the trophy.
But the Eagles were able to turn the game around when it mattered. The early signs did not look good for the Warriors, as after a cagey opening the Eagles won a scrum for a forward pass, and on the resulting set centre Cameron Jackson sent full back Daryl Bulcher darting behind the posts to give himself a routine conversion for a 6-0 lead after seven minutes.
Warriors wasted no time in squaring up the match. Under pressure from loose forward Tom Aplin two Eagles players went for the kick-off and only succeeded in knocking it on. From the resulting scrum, a nice handling move involving scrum half Alasdair O'Connor, winger Aiden Holland and prop Bobby Stables ended with hooker J J McNair forcing his way over after Stables had been held up just short, Aplin converting.
Minutes later Aberdeen were back in the lead. They forced a penalty in midfield and from the resulting set Holland crossed on the left after a patient spell of pressure.
The Warriors passed up a glorious chance to extend their lead, running out of tackles on the Eagles line as they sought to capitalise on another penalty, before Edinburgh hit back on 25 minutes. They worked upfield from the resulting handover, and sent Cameron Jackson away down the right to score. Bulcher's conversion put the Eagles back in front.
Warriors were taught a further lesson in taking chances shortly after the half hour, when a promising move from an interception broke down with a knock-on and winger Calum Anderson scored for the Eagles on a kick play.
Anderson then added insult to injury on the Warriors' next possession when he intercepted a loose pass and raced clear for his second try of the afternoon in quick succession. Bulcher converted the latter to put the Eagles 22-10 up after 36 minutes.
Aberdeen tried to hit back as the clock ticked towards half time, but an ill-disciplined end to the half saw the Eagles score once again, Bulcher repaying Jackson's earlier complement to send the centre in for his second try and converting for a 28-10 half time lead.
Bulcher became the third Eagles player to score a brace when he crossed in the right corner after a patient first set of the second half on the Warriors line. He was unable to convert but the Eagles still led by a healthy 22-point margin.
Back came the Warriors, however, forcing a turnover on the kick-off reception, but the resulting set proved fruitless as a forward pass was eventually ruled against the challengers.
Substitute Neil Alexander crossed when Dave Vernon’s kick saw the winger make a fine catch for the Eagles' seventh try of the afternoon, which again went unconverted, taking the score to 36-10 in the defending champions' favour after 57 minutes.
That was the end of the scoring with the game becoming increasingly scrappy as the half wore on, but there were late chances for both sides. Holland was unfortunate not to add to his earlier try on 67 minutes when he knocked on to bring a nice handling move to an abrupt end, while nine minutes later Alexander scented a second try only to be forced into touch before reaching the line.
Prior to the Eagles underlining their status as the dominant force of the senior Scottish game, Easterhouse Panthers were confirmed as the powerhouse of the junior Scottish game, with victories in both the Under 15 and Under 17 Grand Finals against Aberdeen Spartans.
The Under 17 final proved to be the closer of the two, with the Panthers winning 32-20, while the Under 15 final finished 34-12.
EDINBURGH EAGLES -- D Bulcher; C Anderson, C Cockburn, C Jackson,
S Henderson; D Vernon, L Clarke; A Carroll, R Grady, C Jarvis, J Steele,
T Murray, D Barber.
Subs (all used): T Skeet, D Cowan, M Robertson, N Alexander.
ABERDEEN WARRIORS -- A Little; A Holland, G Feighan, R Lumsden,
D Wallen; C Hume, A O'Connor; B Stables, J McNair, S Gray, M McCall,
A Robertson, T Aplin.
Subs (all used): L Reed, P Gillies, D Hazzard, T Lee, D Russell, S Bell,
LONDON & SE
In the Southern Premier, HAMMERSMITH HILLS HOISTS were confirmed as runners up to SKOLARS A with EASTERN RHINOS claiming third place following their 50-26 victory over ELMBRIDGE EAGLES.
PORTSMOUTH NAVY SEAHAWKS claimed the South East title with a 44-10 win at GUILDFORD GIANTS while SOUTHAMPTON SPITFIRES finish second despite a 52-10 hammering at MEDWAY DRAGONS.
In the East, ST IVES ROOSTERS finished top of the division just pipping NORTH HERTS CRUSADERS. BEDFORD TIGERS who finished third following their 54-36 win over KINGS LYNN BLACK KNIGHTS will travel to North Herts in the play offs while fourth placed BURY TITANS travel to St Ives next weekend.
In the North Wales Conference, FLINTSHIRE FALCONS came within minutes of what would have been a famous victory to take them to the Grand Final, leading favourites PRESTATYN AND RHYL PANTHERS 34-32 going into the closing stages but Lewys Weaver stole the game from them with a late try. The scrum half – who has also been snapped up by North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths - showed his class when he went in by the posts. Weaver ended with a hat trick and he opened the scoring down the right hand side. Wil Davies soon replied for the Falcons, reaching out in the corner to level. Weaver was at it again soon after, collecting a Callum Bennett chip over the defence and grounding next to the posts and Jack Hughes increased the Panthers’ lead soon after that, but then Prestatyn’s indiscipline cost them dearly. Firstly, they had Bennett sent to the sin bin for a late challenge off the ball and immediately after Anthony Tilley was also given ten minutes for dissent. The two-man advantage rejuvenated the visitors, and Ollie Hughes went over for a quick double. Jamie Elder made the most of space of space down the right flank to touch down and Davies crossed on the left for his second – that score taking his side into the break 28-16 in front. Jonathan Burgess’ side made a major improvement in the second half, recording three tries in the first half an hour to take them into a two-point lead. Collinge and Bennett both crashed through the Falcons defence and Ben Syme produced a weaving run to score between the posts. Falcons found a reply through Mitchell Martin, which they thought was enough to book a trip to Colwyn Bay RFC for the Grand Final. However, Weaver had other ideas stepping several tackles to score the winning try. Prestatyn will face Conwy Celts in the Grand Final in two weeks after beating Dee Valley 28-18.
In the South Wales Premier, BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS booked their place in their ninth Welsh Final in ten years with a 40-22 victory against VALLEY COUGARS at Nelson RFC. They now face Bonymaen Broncos in two weeks time. Bridgend took an early lead when Lloyd O’Connor crashed over in the first minute, and moments later a great run from Owain Williams sent his fellow prop Nathan Hawkins across, Gareth David added a conversion for a 10-0 lead. But the Cougars hit back and dominated most of the remainder of the half, Jon Sanigar and Rhodri Morris both went close before great play from Paul Emanuelli sent Scott Belmont over and just before half time the Cougars added a second via Chris Speck with Emanuelli kicking both goals for a 12-10 half time lead. Cougars extended their lead early in the second half when Speck claimed his second but a superb length of the field try from Huw Rosser turned the game, the fullback catching a loose kick and sidestepping three players before running 80 metres for a great individual score, which David again converted. That try lifted Bridgend and two more quick scores from Danyl Davies and debutant Dai Griggs, both goaled by David put the Blue Bulls in control and 28-16 up. The sin-binning of Nathan Hawkins allowed the Cougars to briefly get back into the game with Rhodri Morris scoring and Emanuelli claiming the goal but a second try for Rosser, after a great downfield kick from David and a late score from Ryan Miles after a break from younger brother Josh sent Bridgend into the Final, David landing two more goals.
A tough game between two well-matched sides went the way of GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS as Sam Goatley’s try with 21 seconds left on the clock saw the Warriors home 14-12 against BIRMINGHAM BULLDOGS. Both teams defended stubbornly but there was a high error count with the sides handing over possession too cheaply. This was partly due to a heavy shower during the second period that made handling difficult and partly to the frantic pace at which the game was played. The Warriors though carried a threat on attack particularly in the second period but they had to survive some fierce Bulldogs pressure and scramble very well to keep their line intact. Birmingham started the better and Andy Burton spilled the ball with the line open after seven minutes to waste a golden opportunity.
The Warriors made the most of their first clear chance as Goatley’s bomb caused pandemonium and Chris Hall picked up to score. Goatley potted the simple conversion. Burton made amends for his error ten minutes later, breaking through on a last tackle play to score by the posts, Adam Walker converting to level the scores. Both sides began to settle down and control the ball much better without making an impression until the final move of the first half when Josh Walker powered over and Adam Walker added the goal to give the Bulldogs a 12-6 half time lead. Ten minutes into the second period, Warriors made the breakthrough. Hall made the initial break, Matt Byers took the ball on before Goatley was hauled down short. The ball was switched right and Max Whelan bumped off one defender before forcing his way over the line for a try. Goatley couldn’t convert but the Bulldogs lead was cut to a slender two points. Bulldogs had a period of pressure but the Warriors scrambled superbly snuffing out the danger. The closest they came was when Curtis Wellington was held up over the line. With time running out, the Warriors were presented with a penalty on the last tackle. Two drives saw them held up over the line and from the play the ball Goatley saw a gap and forced his way through for the winning try. Reece Boughton’s conversion flew across the face of the posts but there was no time to restart the game and the Warriors had kept their unbeaten record over the Bulldogs in 2012 and finished their league season in dramatic style.
CLOCK FACE MINERS won the game of the weekend with a 31-18 success over BANK QUAY BULLS in the Premier Division. Miners went ahead in the 12th minute through a Sam Long try which was converted by Martin Hutton but were pegged back level by a touchdown from Bulls full-back Eddie Vaughan which was added to by Anthony Braide. However, tries before half-time for Chris Sheffield and Mark Costello coupled with a goal from Martin Hutton, who also kicked a drop-goal in the 39th minute, meant that Miners led 17-6 at the break.
Costello went over again for Clock Face after half-time to extend Miners lead before Matt Wilson and Danny Woods crossed for Bulls tries which were both converted by Chris Forster and saw the lead shrink to just 21-18. It wasn’t to be for Bank Quay though as a 63rd minute try for Clock Face winger Steve O’Neill converted by Martin Hutton and a 70th minute try for Mark Gibson pushed the final score to 31-18. Bulls remain top of the Premier Division despite the result but are now just two points clear of second placed Blackbrook who also have a game in hand. Clock Face Miners now sit in fourth ahead of Barrow Island on points difference.
Another close game was served up in the Premier Division by BLACKBROOK and PILKINGTON RECS which eventually saw Brook triumphing 18-16. Pilkington got on the score board first in the 15th minute with a Jamie Smith try converted by Greg Smith. The home team pulled it level 10 minutes later with an Ian Honey try which was converted by Lee Marsh before Pilks went ahead again in the 35th minute through a try from centre Mark Ashton. Blackbrook’s Danny Fairhurst then decided the course of the game with tries either side of half-time in the 38th and 45th minute both of which were converted by Lee Marsh to make the score 18-10. Pilkington scored a consolation effort through Ryan Rogers in the last minute which was again kicked by Greg Smith.
In Division 5, BURY BRONCOS enjoyed a good win over LITTLE HUYTON REDS eventually triumphing 27-18 which means although they remain eighth they are now level on points with Crosfields whilst Little Huyton sit in fourth place. An early try for Broncos full-back Blake Roberts put them on track for victory and this was quickly followed by a try from centre Rick Brogan converted by Roberts. Blake Roberts bagged a try in the 28th minute which he also converted before Broncos prop Adam Radford scored just before the break to make the half time score 20-0 to the visitors. Little Huyton winger Alan Hargreaves went over for his side’s first points almost immediately after half-time but Broncos’ Adam Radford scored again in the 45th minute and Blake Roberts converted to widen the lead. Daniel Jones, Simon Foster and Bolton all crossed in quick succession for Little Huyton with Shaun Foster converting Jones’ effort but it proved consolation and Broncos’ stand-off Chris Meady kicked a field-goal in the dying minutes to confirm the win.
A Reggie Stirk hat trick, secured victory and the Group 4 league title for a bouyant SCARBOROUGH PIRATES who defeated HULL DOCKERS A 42-22. Falling behind from the kick off, the home side re-grouped, with Stirk bouncing off a challenge to race 90 metres and draw his side level. Further tries from Oliver Battye and Sam Hakings, with goals from Tom Ratcliffe eased the Pirates to a 16-6 half time lead. Kiwi Jim Thompson and two more from Stirk put the game out of reach for the Dockers in the third quarter. Tom Ratcliffe exuded class throughout, with his awareness and vision putting in Jack Johnson and Jack Hakings to cap a fine season.
DEWSBURY CELTIC’S A team put up a good team performance with the help of their under 18’s players, holding off the challenge of YORK ACORN 54-24. The first half was a close game with Acorn scoring in the 15th through Thomas Mackley from close in, converted by Stephen Waldron. Four minutes later Celtic pulled back when Joe Batchelor crossed in the corner. Mackley had scored his second in the 23rd minute, out wide, Waldron landing an excellent conversion. Celtic responded with William Brooke chipping and chasing to score between the posts to make it 12-10 to the visitors at the break. Acorn extended their lead in the 46th minute through Ben Fairburn, Waldron again on target and four minutes later James Bromwich scored added their fourth try, Waldron keeping his perfect record with the boot going. Celtic, playing downhill, then hit their straps. Batchelor claimed a second try, Dougie Foster went in at the side of the posts and Batchelor sent in Danny Buckley, Halloran’s three goals putting the hosts ahead for the first time. Fifteen minutes from time, Foster was provider for Liam Riley in the corner, Foster went himself soon after and five minutes later completed his hat trick. Batchelor picked up Dewsbury’s tenth try in the 78th minute, Halloran landing his seventh goal.
WALTON WARRIORS posted eight tries to beat WEST BRADFORD BARBARIANS 44-6. Second rower Chris Rudge opened the scoring in the 11th minute for the Warriors, Tommy Malyan goaling, Richard Foster making it 10-0. Hooker Andy Doherty replied for Wests, converting his own try in the 25th minute, but a try in the lead up to the break – from Adam Greaves - and two Malyan goals, the second a penalty, to make it 18-6 put the hosts in charge. Lee Garside, back after long term injury and with a storming drive, went in four minutes into the second half, Rudge claiming a second soon after. Malyan added a try to his six goals and Ashley Hill and Martin Brooks completed the scoring with touchdowns.
FRYSTON laid down the gauntlet to the team they play in the quarter finals of the National cup in three weeks time with a 54-16 home success over SKIRLAUGH, their finishing clinical. It took them only a matter of minutes to open the scoring with Dale Wynne shooting through, Andy Speake landing the first of six goals. Fryston extended their lead when good handling gave Jack Taylor the room to score but Skirlaugh hit back when lively hooker Joe Hall shot through from dummy half to score. The hosts rallied and Kyle Stanley backed a break to score at the side of the posts, soon followed my Wayne McHugh who had an exceptional game throughout. Skirlaugh responded again and reduced the deficit to 12 points with a try in the corner. Fryston finished the first half in style by running in two more tries, the first from Lee Land who went on to land a hat trick and the second from ever dangerous Jack Lee. Fryston shuffled their team around at half time and it took a while to get the rhythm back and Skirlaugh took advantage to cross at the side of the posts. But after that the game belonged to the home side who ran in four more tries through Steve Scott, Land twice and McHugh who also landed a goal.
Two tries from James Cruickshank, along with three goals, saw OULTON RAIDERS home against CUTSYKE, 22-18. Mark Taylor and James Mann scored the other Raiders touchdowns, Aaron Henry, Rob Wright and David Morland crossing for the visitors for whom Danny Huby kicked three goals.