Birkenshaw Blue dog 44 - Illingworth 4
Top of table clash
Birkenshaw 44 Illingworth 4
BIRKENSHAW made short shrift of Division Four West leaders Illingworth in their top-of-the-table clash at East Bierley.
Birky shook the visitors to the core when centre Robbie Cass dived over in the corner following a crisp passing move, soon followed by another telling effort from his fellow centre Luke Johnson who exploited a huge gap on the flanks to canter home.
Illingworth’s attempts to stem the tide were to no avail as Johnson danced his way clear to execute a perfect offload to wingman David Harrison to race to the posts.
Fullback Gary Procter landed the easy extras and was once again on target when loose forward Jarrad Toulson collected a smart pass from hooker Matt Honysett to make the whitewash as the total mounted.
Birky decided to take a penalty when the Halifax outfit attempted to slow the game down by hanging on in the tackle, before Harrison’s pace and power saw him in at the corner after Johnson had skittled three defenders out of his way. Procter landed a splendid touchline conversion.
Illingworth gained some measure of relief when loose forward Isaac Farrell found a route to the whitewash, and they were denied a further score when Birky had Cass sent to the sin bin for a professional foul when he resorted to holding down when the line was wide open.
With a whopping 26-4 advantage, the hosts left it to the big men to lay the foundations on the restart, with prop Adam Lazenby and second row forward Paul Bancroft creating huge holes in the visitors' rearguard to set up a splendid touchdown from standoff Chris Ripley.
The lanky half back then inflicted another blow when he threaded a grubber kick beyond the defence to allow Procter the chance to pounce and tag on the extras once more.
Birky’s final try came straight from the training ground when they attacked from a deep line to send the ball flashing through the three-quarters, leaving substitute wingman Alfie Leper to cut inside the fullback and plant the ball near enough for Procter to have the final say – thereby posting a vital success in the run in for the title crown.