NCL DIVISION ONE MATCH REPORT - HUNSLET WARRIORS 10 UNDERBANK RANGERS 16
Below par Rangers eke out the points in scrappy win
Underbank’s remain top of the NCL Division One, but only on points difference from Hunslet Club Parkside, after this close fought win over relegation threatened Hunslet Warriors, who now need to win their final two games, and hope other results go their way, if they are to avoid the drop. Underbank still head the league table with 36 points from 20 games, the same total as HCP after Saturday’s results. With just two rounds to go (three for HCP) Underbank have certainly not given up all hope of finishing top and will go into the remaining games determined to win all of them, keep the pressure on Parkside, and hope that they slip-up on the final run-in. While Rangers struggled to win at the Warriors, Parkside had a comfortable 34-14 victory at Featherstone Lions.
This was definitely Underbank’s worst performance of the season, but superb goal-line defence in which front row forwards Dave Valentine and Dan Farrand were outstanding restricted the hosts to just two scores, one in each half. The lack lustre performance could be accredited to the fallout the crucial and disappointing loss to Parkside the previous week or the fact a number of key leading players were missing once again, but Rangers rarely threatened throughout and were fortunate to take the spoils. a number of external factors such as Rangers missing key players such as the likes of Kris Harrop, and half backs Luke Pogson and Danny Hirst.
On a damp pitch, and with the constant threat of heavy showers around Rangers had a few changes from the previous game with usual centre Alex Chatterton swapping places with Tom Eidson at half back in the starting line-up, Tom England on the right wing with his brother Will moving to left centre for the unavailable Nathan Chappell. Billy Rogers broke his thumb the previous week and his season is over due to injury along with Pogson (shoulder) and wing Sam Ansell (groin). Rogers was replaced in the starting side by Dan Farrand, and Jack Thompson returned to the replacements bench after missing the Parkside game. Others unavailable for selection included Luke Roberts, Jonlee Sanderson and Dave Dyson.
Underbank relied on two breakaway tries in the first half to register their points. On eight minutes Craig Williams collected a Warriors grubber kick under the shadow of his own goal posts, stepped two defenders and raced 95 metres for a fine individual try. Owen Restall added the conversion and did so again on 25 minutes as Alex Chatterton sped 50 metres to score after being released by Craig Williams. This after Tom Eidson had successfully stolen the ball to break down a Hunslet attacking raid and the race 40 metres to set the position for Williams’ defence splitting pass to Chatterton who did the rest. In between times the Warriors grabbed a try on the last tackle as Luke Day touched down a grubber kick. The extras weren’t added. The remainder of the first half was largely unforgettable as Rangers constantly spilled possession, missed tackles and conceded penalties, but showed enough grit and determination to repel wave upon wave of Warriors’ attacks and Underbank led 12-4 at the break. The second period was a repeat of the final twenty of the first half with Hunslet grabbing an early score on 42 minutes through Ben Gale. The conversion was added by Gary McClelland and Hunslet trailed by just two points. Crucially they missed a fairly simple penalty shot after 55 minutes, and they then battered the Underbank goal line for most of the second half, but Underbank held them out with resolute and desperate tackling, and after sustaining a pummelling in their own quarter, in the final minute the win was confirmed as Sam Rochford and Alex Chatterton combined in a well practised move to send young winger Tom England over for a walk-in try. Restall hit the right upright with the conversion attempt and the referee’s whistle blew for full time and a fortunate 16-10 victory.
A dogged team effort was highlighted by a typically grafting display from front row forward Dave Valentine who was duly awarded the Bengal Spice, Man of the Match and fellow forward Craig Williams was selected by his team mates as the The Rose & Crown, Thurstonland Players’ Player of the Match for his tireless effort in the back row and his contribution to the two first half scores.
Underbank return to action at home to relegation threatened Featherstone Lions next Saturday, the final home game of the season at the Cross Grounds.