The draw for the second round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup takes place at Siddal RLFC on Tuesday (from 7pm) and the Halifax club avoided the ignominy of not being in it with a 16-4 win at home to Milford Marlins yesterday.
The Chevindge men, as the top amateur side in the country last season, were expected to overcome their division-lower Conference opponents in the first round.
However, with only two training sessions under their belts since last season’s Grand Final thrashing of Leigh Miners Rangers, coach Gareth Greenwood had viewed the clash with Marlins as a possible banana skin.
He need not have worried. After a sticky opening 10 minutes, in which they saw little of the ball, Siddal were strong across the park and always looked the likely winners.
In grey, damp conditions, referee Cameron Worsley had a strong grip on proceedings. The early penalties went the visitors’ way and scrum half Martin Loveridge missed two straightforward shots at goal.
Impressive home fullback Freddie Walker’s 40-yard kick return eased the pressure and the rest of the half belonged to the hosts, with the hard-working Byron Smith leading the forward effort.
Siddal turned down successive shots at goal in the quest for a try but Marlins fronted up well in defence and the hosts needed arch try poacher Shaun Garrod to help them into a 12-0 interval lead.
The play maker, who scored 24 tries in the Premier last season, weaved his way through for the first on 28 minutes and plunged over for a second five minutes later, winger Gareth Blackburn adding both goals.
Marlins hinted briefly at a comeback when stand off Macauley Barron’s diagonal kick was perfect for winger Mark Judge to catch and score in “clubhouse corner” on 49 minutes.
However, Loveridge was unable to convert, the visitors lost second row Edward Wilson to the sin-bin and Siddal created the space for winger Ben West to touch down wide out on 54 minutes.
That was the end of the scoring as Blackburn’s conversion attempt struck an upright, Siddal’s Jack Georgiou and Milford’s Barron having stints in the sin bin in the final quarter.
Greenwood was happy with Siddal’s performance, considering his side’s opening league match isn’t until the start of March.
He thought Siddal might have scored more points on a firmer playing surface but praised Milford for being “pumped up and getting stuck in.”
Wembley winner Johnny Lawless and ex-England player Luke Robinson, both products of the Siddal club, will make Tuesday’s draw.
The 16 winning sides from the first round will be involved and the hosts will be looking for a passport to the third round, in which they humbled eventual League 1 Shield winners Newcastle Thunder 30-4 last season.