Siddal have reached the half-way point of their National Conference League campaign with maximum points after a 16-8 win on the long trip to Kells yesterday.
The Cumbrians had won their previous four games but Gareth Greenwood’s reigning champions built a 16-2 interval lead and then defended strongly to make it 11 wins out of 11.
All the teams chasing Siddal have dropped at least five points. Fourth-placed Rochdale Mayfield, who won 70-6 at Thatto Heath Crusaders yesterday, provide the next stern opponents in Lancashire on Friday evening.
Siddal were without Chris Brooke, Gareth Blackburn and Elliot Hodgson from the team which had put Wath Brow Hornets to the sword the previous week.
Hooker Sean McCormack played at scrum half and prop George Ambler came back into the side.
Rock-solid defence and a great kicking game by Shaun Garrod and Craig Sanderson kept Kells pinned in their own half for long spells of the opening 40 minutes.
Kells went in front when Siddal dropped the kick off in front of their posts and then conceded a penalty for offside. Kells opted to take the two points.
Sanderson managed to get the restart to bounce dead and Kells had to drop out. Siddal took a grip from there with forwards Byron Smith, Ambler, Canaan Smithies, Jack Georgiou and Ben Hinsley excellent at taking the ball in and making ground.
Kells defended well but were worn down and when they tried to kick clear, right winger and Siddal’s man of the match Taniela Bakoso brought the ball back very strongly.
Siddal scored their first try on 10 minutes through Canaan Smithies from short range after a quick line pass by Sanderson from a play the ball close to the Kells line. Sanderson missed the goal.
Try number two went to Jack Georgiou on 20 minutes from a similar play. He went in under the posts without a hand being laid on him and Georgiou converted.
Siddal got a third try on the half hour mark after Garrod made a break from 35 metres in the middle of the field and drew the fullback before sending the supporting Sean McCormack under the posts. Sanderson converted.
The visitors didn’t play as well in the second half. They gave away a few penalties, put themselves under pressure with errors and neglected the kicking game which had been so successful in the first half. However, their tackling was superb.
Kells did score on the hour mark after repeat sets on the visitors’ line, one of their players being first to a last tackle grubber kick into the in-goal area.
The goal was added but Siddal snuffed out everything Kells could produce after that.