Match Report - UNDERBANK RANGERS 66 BLACKBROOK 0
Rangers march on to go top of the league
A scintillating performance and victory against their recently promoted opponents propelled Underbank to the top of the 2017 NCL Division One league table with their fourth success on the spin as their unbeaten start to the campaign continued in magnificent style. The win was built on a mean defence that ‘swarmed and bullied’ Blackbrook into submission, plus a ruthlessly efficient, high speed attack that put the visitors to the sword at regular intervals throughout the game. Eleven tries were scored in total by 8 individuals illustrating that Rangers have strike power all over the field, plus half back Luke Pogson successfully kicked all eleven conversions and added the opening try of the game to amass a personal tally of 26 points on the afternoon. Blackbrook tried manfully to stem the tide, but they were blown away by the speed of the play the ball and expert support play of any line break. The start of the day’s leaders Hunslet Club Parkside lost 10-6 at Normanton Knights allowing Underbank to reach top spot in Division One for the first time in their history.
Rangers moved centre Will England to the left wing in place of his younger brother Tom who dropped to the bench. American Joey Eichner started in the left centre to shore up that side of the defence, Sam Rochford was missing at hooker and he was replaced by Andy Boothroyd, and Dan Farrand moved up from the replacements to start at 10 in place of the unavailable Jordan Williams. Craig Williams returned to the team at lock forward as Boothroyd moved to no. 9, boom prop forward Luke Roberts returned to the bench, while he was joined by debutant Dave Dyson in place of the injured Lewis Peet.
The opening period was a tight contest and it took 14 minutes for the home side to open their account as Eichner broke the line on the left edge, raced thirty metres and found the trailling Pogson on his inside for a walk-in touch down. Then five–eighth Danny Hirst raced through from midfield on 18 minutes and found Craig Williams on his shoulder for a great score. Rangers were really cranking up the pressure on Blackbrook with great line-speed and punishing hits forcing errors in their own half of the field, and from once such turnover, Boothroyd scurried over the stripe from ten metres to cross on 25 minutes. The visitors then steadied the ship as they looked to get back into the contest and they unfortunately had a try disallowed for a forward pass after a well executed shift from right to left had exposed the Rangers right edge defence. Underbank hit back straight away to essentially seal the game with their fourth try of the first half on 37 minutes as Kris Harrop joined the attack from full back and fired a fast ball to Eichner who crashed over for his first try for the club. Pogson kicked his fourth conversion of the half, this one from the touchline, and the teams went to the sheds with Rangers in command of a potentially game-winning 24-0 lead at the break.
Any thoughts that Blackbrook had of getting back into it soon disappeared at the start of the second half as they were forced into an error in the own half on 48 minutes, and Harrop raced through from 30 metres from the well-rehearsed scrum move. It was just a matter of how many points that Rangers would now rack up and they scored a further six tries in a totally dominant display of both brawn and brain as strong defence set up the positions for them to exploit to the maximum. Firstly Alex Chatterton, on his 150th career appearance for Underbank, kicked through on the last tackle for himself to score. From the kick off Sam Ansell carried the ball 60 metres and from the play the ball Harrop found Chad Bain who rumbled over from ten metres. Ansell, moved to full back to cover injuries, then grabbed the first of a 14 minute hat trick of tries as he followed a superb Eichner break, with Hirst dancing his way through for a great individual try interspersing the Ansell trable. Ansell then received a lovely reverse pass from Harrop to gallop over, and finally Casey Clark scattered the Blackbrook like bowling pins with a bulldozing run to hand on to Ansell for his final score. Pogson added the extras as he had to all the second half tries as the final whistle was blown on a clinical if ultimately comfortable and straightforward win for the new league leaders.