Siddal produced another solid performance, built on defence, as for the second successive game they managed to hold out their opponents in an away Challenge Cup victory. Opponents Millom came into the game on the back of an historic round 1 win against Red Star Belgrade and were boosted by a big crowd in Cumbria.
In a lively opening, both sides were tackling ferociously, with Siddal penning the home side in their own half. Byron Smith, George Ambler and Danny Rushworth led from the front and were aided by the tireless Danny Williams, Ben Hinsley and Jack Georgiou.
Millom didn't give an inch in the first 10 minutes and front rower Ethan Kelly and hooker Noah Robinson, were also prominent.
Rushworth came close to a try after 14 minutes with a trademark scoot from a play the ball but in grounding the ball, the referee judged it was knocked on. With chances for either side at a premium, Siddal snatched the vital first score after 19 minutes. Chris Brooke took play down the blind side and passed neatly to Josh Greenwood-MacDonald, who sped 40 yards down the touchline and switched back inside to find the supporting Gareth Blackburn, who touched down. Blackburn converted his own try for a 0-6 lead.
Brooke and half back partner Christian Ackroyd kept Siddal on the attack with probing kicks as the visitors dominated the territorial play. The returning Sean McCormack and Canaan Smithies were introduced to the game and a McCormack break down the middle came to nothing with the ball spilled as Siddal tried to force the play. The lead was stretched after 33 minutes. There appeared to be no danger when Freddy Walker took the ball from a scrum, but despite the attention of 3 Millom defenders, he managed to wriggle free from the attempted tackle and sprint behind the posts to allow an easy conversion for Blackburn and a 0-12 half time scoreline.
Millom threw everything they had at Siddal at the start of the second half. Prompted by lively stand off Jonathan Hodgson, they had 3 successive sets in Siddal's 25 yard line. The visitors defended superbly, with Sam Walsh, Henry Turner and Dom Booth all to the fore. The game breaking score came after 44 minutes. With Siddal penned in on their own line and Millom seeking another repeat set, Ackroyd bravely gathered the ball from behind the try line and sprinted past half way, before the scrambling defenders tackled him, but held on too long. From the resulting penalty, the ball was spread to Henry Turner who found a gap and dived over. Blackburn's conversion attempt was just wide, but with a 0-16 lead, Siddal were looking too strong for their NCL opponents.
Ackroyd, Walker and McCormack were all making ground and in defence skipper Smith was a rock, alongside Eddie Ainley and Rushworth. Siddal thought they had scored again when Blackburn joined the line and fed a short ball to Turner, only for the linesman to harshly rule the pass forward.
Siddal put the game beyond the Cumbrians with further short range tries from Hinsley and Ambler, after 58 and 62 minutes, the final try being converted by Blackburn for a 0-26 scoreline.
This was another promising performance from Siddal, as they look ahead to the start of the league campaign in March. All 17 players performed well and tackled superbly, with Blackburn being voted man-of-the-match for the second game in a row,. Coaches Daz Phillips and Gareth English will hope for a home draw on Monday evening, after facing two long journeys in the opening rounds.
Updated 10:42 - 10 Feb 2019 by Joe McCormack