NCL MATCH REPORT - UNDERBANK RANGERS 38 NORMANTON KNIGHTS 20
Rangers beat second placed Knights with a dominant first half display
A first 40 minutes of pace and power on attack, and quick off the line and in your face defence, allowed Underbank to race to a game winning 32-0 lead by half time, and even though they took their foot off the gas in the second period, Rangers still ran out comfortable winners in this clash between the top two positioned sides and they gained two more league points to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2017 NCL Division One campaign and remain top of the league table with their seventh success on the spin. The win was once again built on punishing and sometimes brutal defence that harried the Knights into making errors in the first half, errors that were then converted into high speed attacks that put the visitors to the sword at regular intervals throughout the opening forty. Seven tries were scored in total highlighted by a fourth hat trick of tries for the season from right wing Sam Ansell, and braces for hard working duo of back rower Joey Eichner and right centre Alex Chatterton. Half back and regular goal kicker Luke Pogson was missing with illness and in his absence full back Kris Harrop successfully kicked five conversions Underbank now go to the new second placed team Hunslet Club Parkside, who won the ‘Hunslet Derby’ 44-0 at the Warriors, next Saturday May 13th.
On a dry pitch, but with a cold northerly wind blowing up the slope, and in front of a bumper crowd, Rangers had hooker Andy Boothroyd, who had recovered from a broken hand, returning in place of the injured Sam Rochford (leg), Craig Williams replacing Pogson in the halves, Owen Restall making his home debut in the left centre, Dan Farrand starting at lock, Joey Eichner moving in the back row in place of the injured Billy Rogers (cheekbone), and Johnathan Tinker and Luke Roberts returning to the replacements bench.
It only took six minutes for the hosts to open the scoring. Foolowing strong surges from front rower Mikey Holmes and Andy Boothroys, half back exploited a quick play the ball for Joey Eichner to receive the ball from Hirst for a simple score. Harrop converted, but he missed the next attempt as Ansell scored his first of the day on nine minutes with a fantastic swallow dive just inside the corner flag. The Knights had kicked the restart out on the full following the opening try, and after Underbank had set up the position Hirst, Harrop and Chatterton linked superbly to send Ansell racing to the corner for the best team try of the afternoon. The visitors were making far too many handling errors and conceding too many penalties against a intense and harrying Underbank D with Chad Bain, Casey Clark and Eichner to the fore, and it was no surprise following one of the penalties that Eichner grabbed his second with just 13 minutes on the clock after Hirst had scythed through the Knights defensive line and provided the final pass for Eichner to race over untouched. Harrop’s conversion attempt the right upright and Rangers led 14-0 in the opening quarter of the game. Then from a Knights’ spilled ball on 20 minutes Chatterton was next on the scoresheet as he ran a great line at pace onto a short pass from Clark, burst through two would be tackles and raced 30 metres to cross the stripe. Harrop kicked the simple conversion, as he did on 31 and 34 minutes as the game was sealed by two individual pieces of brilliance. Firstly with Normanton attacking the Underbank line and looking threatening Chatterton swooped onto a looping pass to gallop 80 metres and then following a scrum Ansell got on the outside of the Knights’ defence and sprinted 90 metres for a great score. The three converted scores made the half time score 32-0 and essentially the game was won.
The second half was a disappointment for the home fans as Rangers conceded far too many penalties and therefore plenty of field position allowing the Knights to post four consolation tries of their own through Clark Thompson (2), Connor Taylor and Lee Hammond with Taylor adding two conversions. Underbank played most of the secong period in ntheir own half, but did break away through Ansell who picked up at the play the ball, beat five defenders on a mazy run to put himself clear and then outpaced the cover defence for his treble completing try. Harrop added the extras to give a final score of 38-20. The second half was largely unmemorable, but it was lit up by a sparkling score by the speedster Ansell, who duly was awarded The Rose & Crown, Thurstonland Players’ Player of the Match and Joey Eichner was selected as the Bengal Spice, Man of the Match. The first half was another impressive showing from Underbank as they cemented their position at the top of the league.