Siddal cut it fine

Siddal v Rochdale Mayfield

Ross White scores
Siddal v Rochdale Mayfield Ross White scores

Siddal completed a second successive flawless home campaign in the National Conference League with a 24-22 win over Rochdale Mayfield yesterday.

The reigning champions and leaders have just trips to Wath Brow Hornets and Skirlaugh to come, after next weekend off, with one more victory required to clinch top spot ahead of the play-offs.

Siddal and third-placed Mayfield have a history of close games - they drew the first meeting 24-24 on a Friday evening in mid-June - and it took a 71st minute try from centre Zack McComb, converted by winger Gav Stead, to give Siddal the points in the rematch.

Even then Mayfield stand-off Zac Hartley had a chance to level matters for the 12-man visitors, who had prop Jamie Connaughton dismissed near the end of the first half, but his penalty was off target.

While Siddal are winning, the standard of their play is a worry for coach Gareth Greenwood, who described the latest performance as “horrible” and “painful viewing.”

The Chevinedge men again made plenty of basic errors and Greenwood is concerned that his side are struggling to crank up their level of play for the business end of the season after fielding patched-up teams during mid-summer.

They typically fell out of the starting blocks yesterday and were 12-0 down after 10 minutes.

Mayfield’s ex-Swinton, Doncaster and Rochdale Hornets player Chris Hough was dictating play in impressive fashion and inside passes from the 35-year-old twice allowed full back Jack Samson to carve through the home defence and touch down. Hartley added both goals.

Siddal needed the next score and got it on 22 minutes when loose forward Canaan Smithies plunged over and Stead converted.

Mayfield, coached by ex-Halifax boss Matt Calland, had gone passive and Siddal drew level six minutes before the break when centre Ben West crossed and Stead’s goal made it 12-12.

Hough collected his perfectly-weighted short restart and kicked two penalties in the closing stages of a half which ended with three extra players on the sidelines after a flare-up.

After a lengthy consultation between the officials, Mayfield winger Lee Registe and Siddal’s Smithies were yellow carded before Connaughton got his marching orders.

Siddal were on top after the break but continued to make mistakes. However, replacement forward Ross White showed great strength to wrestle his way over on 50 minutes and Stead added the goal.

George Ambler looked to have extended the 18-16 advantage but his score was ruled out for a forward pass and Mayfield got their second wind and regained the lead with a Jack Francis try converted by Hartley.

As is so often the case, Shaun Garrod came to the fore when Siddal needed him to, the stand-off’s clever player wrong-footing the Mayfield defence for McComb to score.

Stead clinched victory in the only Premier Division game of the day with an excellent conversion and Siddal are guaranteed second spot at least.