Congratulations from all at Siddal ARLFC to coach Gareth Greenwood and his squad for finishing the 2017 NCL Premier Division regular season top of the pile for the second successive season. A great win on the road at Wath Brow Hornets puts Siddal out of reach of the chasing pack with just next week's away fixture at Skirlaugh to play.
Saturday's game was won on the back of two great defensive stints at the beginning of both halves of the game which saw Siddal once again careless with ball in hand and getting on the wrong side of the referee. But despite monopolising possession and territory the home side couldn't penetrate Siddal's superb defence during these periods and this was key to Siddal coming out on top.
In the first half Siddal scored tries on both of their first couple of real visits to the Wath Brow 20 metre zone. First, around the 15 minute mark, skipper Shaun Garrod skipped past static home defenders to score by the posts and give Gaz Blackburn a simple conversion and though Wath Brow equalised shortly after with a converted try of their own, Siddal went back in front after a fine break by Ben Hinsley led to bench man Connor MacCullum racing over under the posts. Another Blackburn goal put Siddal 12-6 up and that lead was extended to 18-6 a few minutes before half time when a set piece move saw the ball move between Sean McCormack, Garrod, Freddie Walker and Finley Hickey for the young halfback to race in under the posts without a hand being laid on him. Blackburn added the conversion and Siddal went in at half time having silenced the large home crowd.
The opening quarter of the second half was almost identicalto the first. Siddal being heavily penalised and so having to defend several back to back sets right on their own line. The defence was superb and Wath Brow appeared lost for ideas. Siddal gradually got some possession and managed to spend some time in the home side's half and just as it looked as though they had the measure of their hosts two back to back tries to the home side got the crowd back in the game and set Siddal nerves running. Crucially neither try was converted but Siddal's lead had been reduced to 18-14 with 10 minutes to go.
Blackburn was given an opportunity to stretch the lead to 6 points with a penalty but his attempt drifted just wide of the posts but importantly he ensured the ball went dead so Wath Brow had to restart play with a drop out from their 20 metre line. And on the next set Gareth English forced his way over the line with three defenders hanging on for the match winning score. Blackburn couldn't add the conversion and though Wath Brow did cross the line again for a converted try with two minutes remaining Siddal managed to close the game down to clinch a great win and inflict the first home defeat of the season on the Cumbrians.
It was a bit of a backs to the wall win at times, the lads from the bench ............. Sean Mac, Iain Davies, Connor MacCullum and try scoring hero Gaz English ...... all made a huge difference when they came on and there were other great performances from Baz, George, Ben and Freddie.
Updated 21:54 - 3 Sep 2017 by simon greenwood