After being 12-0 down Rovers Heughers battled back to score 20 unanswered points and progress to the final of the Candy Shield.
It was something of a reunion day with several players such as Adam Reay, Chris Sewell, and Muller making welcome returns to the fold together with Freeman arriving as second half cavalry. Perhaps the most notable return though was Ryan Foreman who signed back for Rovers on the Friday night. Ryan re-formed a half back partnership with Alex Rochester that goes back to junior rugby. There was a last minute panic when Alex was unable to take to the field without a vital piece of missing rugby kit but, thankfully, a hair band was found. True story.
We did have something of a selection dilemma with 7 players who would normally play centre and only one prop. So 3 centres went in the back row and Ben Gibson gamely gave it a go at prop. Unsurprisingly Acklam showed up first as the most organised side and put us under pressure. After some less than firm first up tackling Acklam drove over for a converted try. Our defence gradually came together and we held out several attacks before Acklam added to their try count when they squeezed over out wide for an unconverted try to lead 12-0. Ryo missed a long range penalty before Peter Robinson showed a remarkable turn of pace to nearly outstrip the Acklam defence. Peter was dragged down just short of the line but Ste Cotson was following up and powered over to score a good try and Ryo added the extas.
HT Rovers Heughers 7 - 12 Acklam Talbots
Despite playing into a bit of a breeze the second half started very promisingly for the Heughers as we had the vast majority of possession and hammered away at the Acklam line. Stern defence kept us out though and our first points came via a Ryo penalty that narrowed the gap to 10-12. The score remained the same for a while before Ryo accelerated through a gap for a fine try that he converted himself to put us 17-12 up and in the lead for the first time. Both sides went for the win and the game was quite tense. Acklam missed a penalty before Ryo converted one for us and gave us a bit of breathing space being two scores ahead at 20-12. It was a bit of a relief though when Ste Cotson wellied the ball off the field (with a bad knee as well) and the ref blew for full time.
FT Rovers Heughers 20 - 12 Acklam Talbots
This was a competitive game played in a good spirit. After a quiet first half we got stronger in the second half and looked much better. This was a good all round team performance but perhaps a special mention is deserved for those who played out of position. Firstly well done to Ben Gibson who gave it a good go at prop until he seized up! Chris Sewell also did well in the pack and he, Pip Addison and Kirto were very effective in the back row. Ryo was the best player on the park but my man of the match would be Kirto who captained the side well and rolled back the years to give a splendid 80 minutes in the pack. Bet he is aching today!
And we wish a speedy recovery to our injured players - Adam Reay, Ben Gibson and Ste Cotson - and hope to see them playing again soon.
Harrison (Hodgson), Reay (Muller), Coutts, J Montgomery, Swallow, Foreman, Rochester, Monaghan, Gibson (Robinson), (Healey), Stoddart (Lane), Hogg, Addison, Sewell, Kirton (c)
Next week we are back to a Candy League game away to Bishop Auckland. This will be our final 2.15pm KO of the 2017-18 season.