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Great start for Siddal pair

Rugby league - Siddal v University of Northumbria. Gareth Blackburn for Siddal
Rugby league - Siddal v University of Northumbria. Gareth Blackburn for Siddal

Siddal’s new coaching pair Daz Phillips and Gareth English began their reign with a great 27-24 home win against the club’s 2017 Grand Final conquerors Thatto Heath.

A fine all-round team effort paid dividends with all 17 players contributing as Siddal made it two wins from four in the National Conference League’s top section this season.

The lead changed hands seven times as the teams traded tries throughout the game.

The visitors from St Helens were first to touch down after seven minutes when they moved the ball out wide and right wing Dave Meadows scored by the flag. The conversion was missed by Thatto’s lively stand off Jack Jones.

Siddal, who lost coach Anthony Murray to pro side North Wales Crusaders last week, fought back and levelled the scores after 18 minutes. Stand off Jake Smith lofted a kick to the in-goal area and winger Dom Booth caught the ball and touched down. Gareth Blackburn landed a tremendous kick from the touchline en route to a 100 per cent record on the day.

Thatto regained the lead after 30 minutes when the home defence failed to stop an off load and Jones scored by the posts. His conversion left the score at 6-10.

The tit-for-tat pattern continued when Siddal scored on 35 minutes. Determined forward play saw strong drives from Jack Georgiou, Tom Hirst, George Ambler and Ben Hinsley to set a platform for Georgiou to score by the posts. Blackburn’s conversion put Siddal back in front at 12-10 and there was no further scoring before the break.

Siddal conceded a series of penalties at the beginning of the second half. That allowed the visitors to gain possession and a territorial advantage from which centre Matty Morton scored. Jones’ conversion put Thatto back in front at 12-16.

However, on 49 minutes outstanding full back Lewis Hosty span out of a tackle to release player coach English, who made no mistake with the finish. The ever reliable Blackburn’s conversion from wide on the left made it 18-16.

The lead didn’t last long. From the re-start second rower Connor Dwyer scored by the posts and Jones’ conversion put Thatto back in front at 18-22.

The home side were driven forward by Danny Rushworth, Elliott Thompson, Sean McCormack, Canaan Smithies and Byron Smith. The ball was moved wide for Jake Smith to send the rampaging Hinsley through a gap out wide and he stormed over the line. Blackburn’s conversion had Siddal back in front at 24-22 after 61 minutes.

Thatto levelled the scores with a penalty from Jones four minutes later.

It was anyone’s game but Siddal dominated the final 15 minutes. McCormack and Rushworth were both making good yards from dummy half and youngsters Sam Walsh and Connor MacCallum helped the forwards with strong running.

After 72 minutes, Blackburn scored a drop goal to put Siddal back in front at 25-24.

The Chevinedge men kept the ball for the majority of the final minutes, as Thatto began to concede penalties. Blackburn added a further two points and the whistle was blown before the game could be re-started.