RLC Regional and Premier reports
WEST OF ENGLAND
GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS maintained their unbeaten record and ended the WILTSHIRE WYVERNS’ 100% start to the season with an impressive 32-18 win at Sandyleaze.
The Warriors built a 16-0 lead in the opening half hour and survived a Wyverns fight back to secure victory. Gloucestershire took the lead after seven minutes, Pat Hanslow running the perfect line to crash over by the posts, Matt Bradley adding the first of his four goals. Des Gahan crossed out wide before Callum Mulkeen scorched 70 metres to score and the Warriors seemed to be coasting. However, Lee Fairclough scored twice for the Wyverns before the break, Ashley Chalk adding a goal, and Henry Mitchell went across early in the second period to cut the gap to just two points.
Sam Goatley twisted over to edge the Warriors two scores ahead shortly afterwards and the Wyverns, depleted by injury, could not respond. Two tries in three minutes midway through the final quarter from Mulkeen and James Gahan secured the points for the Warriors although Mitchell crossed for a consolation for the Wyverns to conclude a tough, physical but fair game.
The MIDLANDS MAGIC weekend saw all three Co-Operative Rugby League Conference Qualifying games played alongside matches from the 3vSport Midlands Rugby Leagues at the University of Coventry’s Westwood Heath Sports Site.
All the RLC clashes provided close entertaining encounters, none more so than that between West Midlands heavy-weights BIRMINGHAM BULLDOGS and the unbeaten NORTHAMPTON DEMONS.
The Demons kept their record intact but only after a terrific, tight tussle that was only settled on the last play of the match. The opening 15 minutes were scoreless as both sides tackled tenaciously.
Bulldogs then broke the deadlock, with loose forward Greg Pearson bursting through from a short, popped up pass to cross between the posts for a try that skipper and stand-off Dean Morris goaled. As rain swept down the pitch into Birmingham’s faces, Bulldogs had a let off as Demons knocked on over the line. Soon after, though, Northampton cut the gap as, from a penalty restart, quick hands saw second rower Tom Pallant go over to score.
Bulldogs responded with a fine, flowing move as Beatty’s sidestepping run opened up the left side of the Demons’ defence, the ball being worked out to the right where winger Matt Dudley, making his debut, went over in the corner.
On the stroke of half-time, the Demons posted a similar score as, following a scrum, right winger Reece Rance found space to score wide out. As the second half got under way, the Bulldogs suffered a blow when McNamee went off with a shoulder injury. The third quarter was scoreless, with both sides battling to stop or secure the crucial score.
Then Rance just failed to ground the ball following an up-and-under. Soon after, a penalty for a high tackle led to Demons’ stand-off Kie Fewster levelling matters at 10-10 as he kicked the goal. Northampton began to step up the pace and only some determined defence for the next seven minutes kept them at bay. Finally, though, the right side of Bulldogs’ defence was cracked in an attacking set that followed a knock on, as full back Michael Hulme strode over on the left for a try which Fewster goaled. Birmingham battled hard to get back on terms but Demons were finishing the stronger. An apparent second try for Pallant was chalked off following the intervention of a touch judge for an earlier infringement but he made no mistake in the dying seconds when touching down for a try that did count, Fewster converting right on the final whistle.
BRISTOL SONICS held off a spirited second-half fight back from LEICESTER STORM to record a 32-24 win and strengthen their position at the top of the Midlands West group.
Bristol, looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season a fortnight ago, started the game with purpose and blitzed Leicester with a flurry of tries in the opening 20 minutes.
The Sonics took the lead after just three minutes, centre Joel Keen touching down between the posts after a fine left to right move. Skipper Dom Swann added the extras to give Bristol a 6-0 lead. On 10 minutes the Sonics extended their lead further attacking down Leicester’s left, hooker Harry Marson finding Swann who touched the ball on to centre Keen.
He found winger Mike Norman in space and the Bristol flyer did the rest. Swann again stroked over the conversion. Six minutes later Bristol extended their lead further, when scrum half Tom James found full-back Dan Evans in space. He scythed through a gap down Storm’s poorly defended left flank and touched down to make it 16-0.
Bristol’s dream start continued when they were gifted a try on 20 minutes. A poor grubber kick from Storm full-back Callum Corley only found Sonics’ winger Norman, who flew down the right touchline to record his second spectacular try. The Sonics continued to boss the first half but as the clock ticked down Leicester began to finally find some rhythm in attack. On the back of four penalties, Storm were handed the position to attack in Bristol territory on 38 minutes.
A neat pass from hooker Simon Anniss allowed prop Ashley Hutchinson to stroll through between the posts unopposed, Mark White adding the conversion. Storm had a foothold, but at 20-6 down at half time they faced an uphill battle to grab a result. Sonics started the second half impressively and extended their lead within a minute of the restart. Loose forward Wayne Cochran shrugged off four tacklers on a marauding run downfield, before slipping an offload to Swann.
He in turn found Peter Butcher, who dived over to the right of the posts, Swann making no mistake with the conversion. Leicester, now playing with more purpose and beginning to take advantage of Bristol errors, thought they had pulled a try back on 44 minutes but Max Oxoton-Morris’s score was ruled out for a forward pass.
Something of a forward arm-wrestle followed as Storm’s pack began to get on top and Bristol, frustrated by the penalty count going against them, began to make unforced errors. But with the Sonics standing firm defensively, the game meandered towards a stalemate. Bristol thought they were on for a decisive, game-winning score on 57 minutes when Norman broke free but a last-gasp tackle from Corley saw the ball run free. Winger George Leng scooped up the ball and ran 60 metres to touch down, White calmly adding the extras in a 12-point turnaround.
Sonics restored their 20-point cushion moments later when Josh Sampson took advantage of a fumble deep in Leicester territory, scooping up the loose ball and diving between the posts, Swann converting. As the game wore on, Leicester finally sprang into life and started playing some thrilling rugby.
Gifted possession thanks to a combination of Bristol errors and a high penalty count, they started asking questions of the Sonics’ defence. Two trademark close range tries in the space of six minutes from hooker Anniss – both converted by White – gave Leicester hope of a miraculous comeback but Bristol hung on in the final 10 minutes to record a hard-fought but deserved victory.
NOTTINGHAM OUTLAWS ‘A’ held off a spirited attempt by last year’s Midlands Regional League Champions, LEAMINGTON ROYALS winning 26-8.
The Outlaws, missing key players from their line up had to draft in a couple of familiar faces usually confined to the dug-outs, including club stalwart, coach Joe Shepherd who impressed despite a two year absence from the playing field. The Outlaws opened their account early, with play being orchestrated by influential half-back Phil Artley, Alex Whittle scoring next to the posts after good build up play, and a sprint to the line. Gaps soon began to appear but neither team could convert any of the half breaks into tries. The teams looked evenly balanced at this point until Rory McQueen’s brilliancebrought him a stunning try, after a break on the Royals 40 metre line.
Strong defence from Outlaws was having an effect as Leamington knocked on several times in quick succession. As a result, James Sadler bust through a gap and offloaded to the supporting Phil Artley who crossed by the posts. Outlaws began to turn the screw, and were in again when Sadler crossed from close range after a tap penalty, and improved the angle making the conversion a formality making it 22-0 at the break.
The half time interval featured a deluge of rain which affected the handling in the second half and possession was exchanged plenty of times early in the second half. Outlaws were unable to get out of their own half and, when a kick was fumbled, the Royals dived over out wide. Seconds later, though, Nottingham gained possession deep in the Leamington half and Phil Reeves followed up his own grubber kick and scored a good try. Leamington crossed for a second try in the dying seconds the Royals having greater power and force with captain Marcus Pask and Ian Grimes making damaging runs in the front row.
ST ALBANS CENTURIONS kept up their chase of leaders Hammersmith with a 54-16 win over LONDON SKOLARS. In the last game of the Southern Magic Weekend, the start was in a middle of a thunderstorm but both teams adapted well to the driving rain. Saints opened the scoring when loose forward Adam Kambouris off loaded to Shane Rampling who dived over for the try. It came after some quick play the balls caught the Skolars cold. Following a short kick off Skolars retained the ball but knocked on. From the scrum Saints second rower Ewan Drummond standing out of the scrum broke through the Skolars defence and off loaded to David Kramer who danced through the defence. Due to the conditions Skolars could not control the ball and Saints ran in two further tries, the first after some good forward drives by Roy Dube and Adam Kambouris, a ball out wide sending centre Matt Stringer in. That was followed by Rudie van der Merwe using his pace to beat the cover after Skolars’ kick off had gone out on the full into touch and, from the tap, quick hands gave the winger had an easy run in. Adapting well to the conditions, next on the Centurions score sheet was Joe Shaw who with his strength broke the line to score. Then winger Gareth Waters chased a kick on the 5th tackle and outpaced the defence to score in the corner. Skolars, seeking respite, tried to throw a ball out wide only for Olly Fountain to intercept and race 70 metres to score. With four minutes on the clock to half time, Skolars centre Olo Owanfu danced his way through to make it 40-6 at the break. Again at the start of the second half the heavens opened and Skolars were first to take advantage when Saints, with the rain in their faces, fell off tackles and scrum half Jason Cook scored. Once the weather relented, Saints ran in two tries in three minutes, Ollie Fountain chasing a George Stevens kick to score and, after a strong runand off load by Dylan Rampling, Mike Wade threw out a long pass for van der Merwe to go over and bring up the half century. Skolars kept going and after some poor Saints defence, hooker Ronnie Mushisa went over in the corner. Saints had the last say when Fountain completed his hat trick after Skolars gave away consecutive penalties. Next week the top two meet in an eagerly awaited clash.
In the Premier, FIFE LIONS defeated CARLUKE TIGERS 28-4 at home. Lions took an early lead through Sean Cessford with Thomas Murray converting, remaining comfortably in control throughout. Their lead increased when Cessford again crossing the try line; James Bird taking the successful conversion. The visitors then scored their only points of the game with a breakout try down the wing. Greg Wallace soon restored the home advantage with the best try of the match, bursting through the opposition and placing the ball between the posts. Wallace forced his way over the again just before the break, with Murray converting, to give the Lions a 22–4 interval lead. Not long after the restart Ben Morris claimed his first try of the season, with Murray converting, but play was mutually terminated soon afterwards; an injury to one of the Lions players necessitating an ambulance pickup.
NORTH WEST PREMIER
ACCRINGTON AND LEYLAND LIONS continued their fine form with a good 46-22 win at WIGAN RIVERSIDERS. The first half was a tightly fought contest with the lead changing hands four times. The Lions went in with an 18-16 lead thanks to a Paul Lorenzen try on the whistle, other touchdowns coming from winger Sam White, Andy Robinson and Tom Lever and one conversion from Quinn. The second half saw the Lions dominate possession running in three further tries from Ashley O'Rourke, Lorenzen with his second and hooker Russ MacFarlane with Quinn converting two to make it 34-16. The Riversiders pressed the Lions line whose solid defence kept them at bay and after fine work from Leon Fifield and Danny Horridge, Lions gained good field position and Jonny Tuson crashed over, Quinn converting. Tom Lever made a fine solo break to grab his second and the Lions ninth Riversiders having the final say with a try and conversion in the closing minute.
WIDNES WEST BANK were too strong for EAST LANCASHIRE VIKINGS, winning 44-6. The Vikings came in determined mood, however, and matched West Bank in a tight first half. The lightening fast Eddie McAdam was first and quickly on the scoreboard for the home team and was quickly followed by Jordan Barr. The Vikings hit back through their man of the match Ryan Lowe and with the conversion from Adam Wagstaff the score remained at 8-6 but with half time looming, West Bank took an increased lead into the break with McAdam’s second. East Lancs came close to scoring several times in the second half but it was West Bank that posted the points through Liam Myler, Ste Curphey, a double from Jack White and Shaun McDermott. Five conversions from Andrew WcWhinnie and one from White completed the victory.
BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS claimed their biggest ever away win scoring 14 tries to beat the CPC BEARS 74-12 at Cefneithin RFC. The Bears claimed the opening score through Rob Hughes after a great cross field kick on the final tackle with Matthew Fuge converting, but Bulls player-coach Craig Fox hit back straight away, Gareth Howells adding the extras to bring the scores level. Howells then scored himself and again added the extra two before a break from Andrew Fryer sent Bridgend full back Huw Rosser over, Howells again converting. Straight from the re-start winger Nathan Trowbridge gathered, and having only just come on as a replacement in his first game of Rugby League raced away for the Blue Bulls fourth touchdown. As the half ticked by, the visitors ran in three more tries with Dave Norman, Lloyd Ryland and Grant Epton all scoring, Howells kicking all three conversions to give his side a 40-6 half time lead. Bridgend continued to dominate the second period and early scores from Howells, Andrew Fryer, Epton and Ryland, and two more Howells goals put the Bulls past 60 before a great break from veteran forward Karl Hocking sent his son Matthew sprinting to the line. The Bears then hit back with a deserved score from Gareth Lloyd, Fuge again converting before Fryer got his second and Epton completed his hat-trick, Ryland adding one conversion to make the final score 74-12. Despite the big score line the Bears never gave up and continued tackling till the end but they could do little to stop the Blue Bulls onslaught with Gareth Howells giving an excellent stand-off performance. There were also fine debuts from Matthew Dwyer and Richard Llewellyn.
CARDIFF DEMONS turned their season around with a stunning ten try performance against TORFAEN TIGERS to secure their first win in 2011, 56-18. After last week’s heroics in defeat against the CPC Bears, the Demons were boosted by the return of several players and the addition of new squad members. But it was experienced Idris Evans, playing half back, who scored the first try as he cut through the Tigers’ defence on three minutes. The Tigers hit back almost immediately through Joe Little to reduce the arrears to 6-4 but by the 12 minute mark the Demons has opened up a fourteen point gap with a second Evans try and an Ian Newbury touchdown set up by Adam Chant. Stand off Mike Davies broke two tackles to score between the posts for Torfaen, adding the conversion to make it 18-10 on 23 minutes. But the rest of the first half belonged entirely to Cardiff with forwards Scott Britton, Mikal Sidoryk and Christian Francis playing a prominent role. The Demons added five more tries in a quarter hour period of intense pressure and inventive rugby league. The first, on 29 minutes was particularly memorable as coach Joey Davies tried a chip kick just inside the Torfaen half and was able to catch it on the full and evade several pursuing Tigers to sprint a further 30 metres for the score. Newbury then struck a psychological blow for the Demons by running back the short Torfaen kick off a full 65 metres to score his second. Long range tries followed from Jason Cheshire, Mike Hurley and Nathan Rees, and with the accurate Hurley converting all but the last try of the half despite a strong gusty wind, the Demons had built a 46-10 lead at the break. Torfaen began the second half in the knowledge that despite the deficit they at least now the wind in their favour. But it was the Demons who struck first on 46 minutes when Dwaine Iles took a pass 30 metres out and shot down the right wing to extend the Cardiff lead. Mike Hurley took his points total for the day to 24 scoring and converting a 54th minute try. Finally the Tigers managed to use the wind to their advantage and clawed their way back to respectability with tries from Craig Jones and Matt James, the latter set up by centre John Daniels. Unfortunately Daniels suffered an ankle injury late in the game which brought proceedings to an early close, but for a Demons team who had struggled in the opening weeks of the season this fine victory achieved through attractive flowing rugby league was just what the doctor ordered.
In a game of two halves at Caerphilly, VALLEY COUGARS A just held on to beat the NEWPORT TITANS 34-32. The first half was dominated by handling errors and uncompleted sets but saw the Titans take their try scoring opportunities well to score three tries to Valley Cougars` lone one, however the second half was dominated by a sensational period of play where the home side scored four tries in seven minutes to secure a dramatic and sensational win. Rhys Hendley for the Titans opened the scoring with a try after ten minutes which was converted by Jack Williams. Jarrod Jones rounded off an impressive free flowing passage of play for the Titans, Williams adding the goal to make it 12-0. The Titans` third try was an impressive individual effort by James Buckthought who intercepted during a Cougars attack and outran the Valley Cougars defence over 60 metres to score between the posts. On the half hour mark, the Cougars opened their scoring with a determined run by Ryan Saddler who crashed over the try line. The conversion was missed by Carl Thomas to make the score at half time, 16-4 to Newport. The crowd at Virginia Park were then treated to five tries in the first 16 minutes of the second half, three to the Titans, scored by Rhys Hendley, James Buckthoughts` second and Rhys Meredith, Williams goaling two of them. Sandwiched in between the first and second, Cougars threatened with two well deserved tries of their own by Chris Thomas and James Allen but both were unconverted. However, with 13 minutes of the game left, the home side began a dramatic and sensational comeback, scoring four tries in seven minutes, with a double from centre Adrian Owen, Carl Thomas grabbed the third, and a superbly judged kick from him enabled James Allen to score an impressive fourth try which gave the home side the lead for the first time. Three of the tries were converted by Carl Thomas to close out a highly entertaining, dramatic game.
In the Welsh Conference, DUFFRYN DEVILS went down 42020 at home to BONYMAEN BRONCOS. Several new players made their debut for the Broncos with Head Coach Richard Brooks looking for strength in depth with so many boys being selected to the Welsh Dragonhearts squad. Pick of them was scrum half Mark Simons who was awarded the man of the match but he was closely followed by young winger Chris Davies who despite his small stature tackled hard and looked for work throughout. This was the Broncos first away game and the score did not reflect the game as the Devils dominated play for long periods.