Match Report - Hunslet Club Parkside 30 Underbank Rangers 20
Rangers lose battle of the top two, but remain top of the comp
A titanic tussle in Leeds between the division’s top two sides went the way of the home team and resulted in a first defeat of the season for Underbank as they were unable to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2017 NCL Division One campaign. However, they do remain top of the league table courtesy of a superior point difference over the Hunslet side. It was a tough match-up with no quarter given by either side with the home side marginally outscoring Rangers five tries to four. Underbank created just a many clear gut chances, but it was the hosts who were more clinical with their finishing of opportunities. Underbank were in control up until the half hour mark when Hunslet scored four converted tries in the two ten minute periods either side of the half time break to essentially win the contest.
On a dry pitch, and in front of a large and vociferous home crowd, Rangers had back row forward Bill Rogers starting after missing the previous week with a cheekbone injury, and hooker Sam Rochford returning to the bench after recovering from a hip injury alongside Courtney Allette making his first appearance of the campaign. The other changes were positional with Jonathan Tinker stepping up from the bench to replace the unavailable Sam Ansell on the right wing, and Craig Williams, Dan Farrand, and Joey Eichner exchanging positions in the seventeen. Young half back Luke Pogson was again missing through illness.
The opening period was very tight with few scoring chances, but Rangers took the lead on ten minutes when half back Danny Hirst found Rogers with a flat pass and the Aussie back rower crashed over to the left of the posts. Full back Kris Harrop duly kicked the conversion and Underbank led 6-0. Rangers then created two great chances as both Boothroyd and Harrop broke the defence from their own quarter, but on each occasion the support could not get there quickly enough to convert the breaks into points. Hunslet then made their visitors pay for the missed opportunities as Luke Pettman crossed on 23 minutes and front rower Jamie Fields adding the extras to level the scores. However, Rangers responded immediately after receiving a penalty as Rochford darted out from acting half back on the back of a quick play the ball and raced 20 metres for a great individual score that was unfortunately too wide out for Harrop to convert. With Rangers seemingly in control the game suddenly turned on its head as defensive misreads and individuals shooting out of line, resulted in big gaps that Hunslet raced through for tries on 31 minutes for Fields, who converted his own score, and for left winger Omar Al Rawi on 37 minutes. Half back Danny Rowse converted, in Fields’ absence while off the pitch for a rest, to leave the half time score at 18-10 to the hosts.
Underbank needed to get of to a good start in the second half to stem the momentum swinging in the home team’s favour, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way as centre Michael Waite raced over on Hunslet’s first possession of the half on 42 minutes, after Harrop had been deceived by the bounce of a last tackle kick, and then Al Rawi completed a double on 47 minutes as he finished off the best move of the day after receiving a peach of a pass from Rowse. Fields converted both tries to leave the hosts 20 points to the good. Underbank had just over half an hour to rescue the situation, and they promptly dominated proceedings from thereon in. Craig Williams had a score ruled out as he was adjudged to be held up over the line, then Rogers crashed over for his second in identical fashion to his first half score. Alex Chatterton had a touchdown ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up, and then Boothroyd scored a late consolation try after receiving the ball from Rochford. Stand-in kicker Craig Williams added the conversion to the final score, but Underbank ran out of time in their efforts to salvage the match, and were left to rue their missed chances and defensive lapses.
Hard working, two try Billy Rogers was awarded The Rose & Crown, Thurstonland Players’ Player of the Match and he was also selected as the Bengal Spice, Man of the Match, as he was hard pushed for both of the awards by the equally impressive Craig Williams and Andy Boothroyd. Rangers need to bounce back immediately to get over this disappointment and will have a great opportunity next Saturday at the bottom two side Ince Rose Bridge.