Siddal's NCL side played their first away game of the league season on Saturday and came away with 2 points from the long trip to Kells in Cumbria. All 17 players in the squad contributed to the win, which despite conceding 3 tries, was built on good defence, as the visitors were starved of possession for long periods of the match.
The first twenty minutes were dominated by defences. Canaan Smithies, Jack Georgiou and Danny Williams were all smothering the Kells pack. Siddal threatened on a couple of occasions when Joe Martin combined with Lewis Hosty to take play 60 yards upfield, but the chance went begging after 4 minutes. 3 minutes later Gareth Blackburn almost squeezed over the line by the corner flag, but was stopped from grounding the ball by the scrambling Kells defence and was injured in the process.
The home side were not short of confidence after beating champions Hunslet in their previous home game, but Siddal were looking the classier team. Henry Turner was a threat in possession and skipper George Ambler was leading from the front alongside Danny Rushworth and Ben Hinsley. The opening score came after 26 minutes when Gareth English carried out his trademark offload to Sean McCormack, who was in turn backed up by Chris Brooke. The break spread the home defence and from the resulting play the ball McCormack sold an outrageous dummy and strolled over the line from 25 yards without a hand being laid upon him. Blackburn's conversion from under the posts put Siddal 0-6 ahead.
Siddal created another great opportunity 2 minutes later when Brooke and Hosty combined to breach the Kells defensive line, but were penalised for backchat when the Kells defender hung on to allow team mates to regain their position and went unpunished. From the resulting penalty Kells put pressure on the Siddal line coming down the slope and Paul Culnean touched down to reduce the deficit to 4-6.
The only further score in the opening half came right on half time when Brooke landed a drop goal for a 4-7 scoreline at the whistle.
At the start of the second half Siddal's defence held out 16 consecutive tackles inside their 25 yard line, as Iain Davies, Dom Booth, Williams and Christian Ackroyd repeatedly repelled the home side. Kells tried to force another repeat set but their kick was collected by Joe Martin who beat the first tackler and fed the ball out to winger Sam Walsh who scorched 85 yards down the touchline to score by the corner flag. the 4-11 scoreline put Siddal a vital 7 points ahead.
After 54 minutes Grant Gainford's grubber kick from 10 yards saw Siddal slow to react and he touched down unopposed. Brother Ross Gainford's conversion drew the scores closer at 10-11 and it was now all Kells. The visitors had to withstand a further 4 defensive sets as they repeatedly dropped out from under the sticks. On a rare spell of possession, it was man-of-the-match McCormack who broke the Kells defence straight up the middle of the pitch and he fed the supporting Hosty who raced clear to score under the posts after 61 minutes. Brooke took over kicking duties from the injured Blackburn and his conversion put Siddal 10-17 ahead.
That lead was stretched after 68 minutes when Siddal spread the ball through hands as Ambler, McCormack, Georgiou and Ackroyd found Hinsley in space and he passed to Hosty whose clinical finish put Siddal 10-21 in front. Brooke landed an excellent conversion for 10-23, but Siddal had an uncomfortable final 12 minutes despite the 13 point lead.
The visitors barely held possession again before the game was completed and Kells took advantage with a try from winger Daniel Joyce after 75 minutes that was improved by Ross Gainford. The home side crossed the line again with the last play of the game from second rower Callum Kinrade as the game finished 20-23.
Siddal's Yorkshire Men's league team also gained a season opening win at Chevinedge as Russ Holroyd's young side beat East Hull 21-10. Try scorers were Matty Prest, Jake Turner, Callum Holroyd and Eddie Ainley. Skipper Tom Hirst hit two conversions and Turner hit a drop goal. Oliver Lewis at full back was man-of-the-match.
Updated 10:01 - 7 Apr 2019 by Joe McCormack