Demons win Preliminary Round tie
Carnegie Challenge Cup Preliminary RoundNorthampton Demons 46 (18)Gloucestershire University 10 (6)
Northampton Demons' first taste of Challenge Cup rugby ended in triumph as they overcame Gloucestershire University to comfortably book their place in the first round of the tournament.
Having swept all before them in the Rugby League Conference regional competition for the past two years, the Demons were keen to make the most of their chance in rugby league's most prestigious knock-out competition.
They duly seized the opportunity, with two tries each for Ben Jones, Seb Ward and Carl Siduik as Northampton eased to a 36 point margin of victory that sets up a home tie against Leeds Met University in the next round.
The visitors were presented with the chance to take an early lead when they were awarded a penalty 20 metres out in the second minutes.
However, they eschewed the kick at goal in favour of running the ball and lost possession when Michael Venn knocked on.
Both sides proved evenly matched in the opening minutes of the game, but the Demons broke the deadlock on ten minutes when centre Jones spied a gap in the Gloucestershire defence and dived over from close range.
The conversion was missed, but five minutes later the home side were in again when full back Mike Hulme drew in two defenders before passing out wide for support runner Frank Barlow to score a second unconverted try.Nevertheless, the students hit back on 18 minutes by taking advantage of some slack defending.
Nick Horne's run took them deep into Demons territory and Josh Riggall finished of the move, scoring near the posts to give half back partner Rory Sherratt a simple conversion.
Luke Wannacott then blew a glourious opportunity to give his team the lead four minutes later, knocking on over the line after taking a quick tap penalty that caught the hosts off-guard.
They were duly punished for that error on 27 minutes. Northampton were awarded a scrum ten metres out and the ball was worked out to Hulme, who this time out-paced the defence to race in and score behind the posts, with Tony Hetherington duly adding the extras.
Hulme then went from scorer to provider again on the half hour - this time putting through Kieran Richards to get the unconverted try that put the Demons into an 18-6 lead at the interval.
With two minutes of the restart they were in again and it was Jones who the score, selling Gloucestershire's Nathan Raynor a dummy before jinking his way through to touch down, with Hetherington converting.
Demons second row Ward then showed his power with two tries that effectively killed the game off as a contest.
The first on 46 minutes saw him shake off several would-be tacklers, with his second three minutes later came after he had broken the line with a barnstorming run from 40 metres out.
But Gloucestershire were not prepared to simply roll over and after Matt Cordrey had been held up over the line, Pat Evans rewarded them for their spell of pressure with an unconverted score on the hour.
Despite the efforts of the visitors, the last 20 minutes were nearly all one-way traffic. Hard-running Northampton prop Siduik grabbed a double, although there was some controversy over his second try after the referee ruled he had kicked the ball rather than knocked on in the build up.
The contest was capped off in fine style with a superb solo try from Joe Rice nine minutes from time.
The winger picked up the ball deep in his own half before stepping on the gas and busting through the line to go all the way from 60 metres.
Northampton Demons - Hulme; Rice, Richards, Jones, Barlow; Hook, J. Smith; Wond, Hetherington, Siduik, Ward, Goslett, DavenportInterchange - Watts, Wolfenden, Derry, Woods
Gloucestershire University - Warner; Cordrey, Watkins, Horne, Evans; Riggall, Sherratt; L. Smith, Vaughan, Venn, Walters, Heard, FianderInterchange - Boughton, Wannacott, Raynor, Tomlinson