Birts is Brighouse Rangers’ match winner
Brighouse Rangers scored from the last play of the game to snatch a dramatic 16-13 derby win away to Wyke in round two of the Yorkshire Men’s League 40/20 cup on Saturday.
The match was switched to Wyke’s own gluepot of a pitch due to waterlogged fields at Brighouse and played in front of a large crowd,
The opening 30 minutes proved to be a stalemate, with both sets of forwards locking horns and mistakes frequent from both sides in the muddy conditions.
Rangers nearly opened the scoring but Matty Bailey’s pass to the supporting Karl Frankland, after a powerful surge from his own half, was forward.
Vigorous tackling from the Wyke pack resulted in several Rangers players requiring attention and referee benevolence kept both teams at 13 aside.
Wyke broke the deadlock on 30 minutes, scrambling over for a converted try in the right corner.
Rangers’ try machine Jordan Sild put Rangers on the board, barrelling through Wyke defenders in the left corner. Frankland was unable to convert in difficult conditions.
Wyke extended the lead in the 50th minute. A chip into a boggy part of the field caused chaos and a Wyke winger toe-poked the ball forward and touched down in the right corner, again converted to make it 12-4.
Rangers’ long unbeaten record was under serious threat with the conditions and Wyke’s aggression suppressing Rangers’ normally open style of play.
Rangers forward Matty Bailey had other ideas though, using his bulk to smash over in the 52nd minute, too far from the posts for Frankland to convert.
Experienced Jamie Barraclough, off the bench, was helping Rangers regain some control of the game and vigorous tackling started to take its toll on a tiring Wyke outfit.
Sild, surprisingly agile for a big man, used his ballet dancer footwork, to surge over the line from close range in the left corner, again unconverted, to level the scores at 12-12 in the 70th minute.
Wyke were reduced to 12 men, after a shoulder charge by their burly prop left Rangers’ Sam Moon struggling to regain his feet.
Rangers were restricting Wyke’s field position with enthusiastic defence, but that didn’t stop Wyke landing an excellent wind assisted drop goal from 40 yards out, the Rangers defence generous in not challenging the Wyke kicker with five minutes left.
Wyke, 13-12 up and sensing victory, were winding down the clock and put in a no frills touch finder in Rangers’ territory with seconds left
Rangers quickly packed the scrum and from the base Jamie Barraclough produced an exquisite cross field chip, collected by centre Jordan Sild, who unloaded in the tackle to 17-year-old winger Lucas Birts, free on the edge. From 60 yards out, he scorched up the left touchline, chased all the way by the Wyke fullback. Roared on by a big Brighouse following, the youngster’s pace did the rest, searing to the left corner to send his teammates ecstatic. The conversion was missed, but that was irrelevant as the referee blew for time.
It wasn’t Rangers’ best display, not helped by conditions, while Wyke did enough to suggest they will do well this season with a good mixture of seasoned big aggressive forwards and speedy backs.
The abiding memory of this game will be the never say die spirit Rangers possess, maintaining that year long unbeaten run, and the quality of the dramatic match winner.
Next week Rangers visit Keighley Albion and barring a freak result should progress to the knockout stages of the competition.