Boothtown Terriers turned a 4-0 deficit just before half time into a 32-16 victory in yesterday’s 39th Joseph Fee Memorial Challenge Cup final at Old Brodleians RUFC.
Terriers player-coach Scott Bradley grabbed a breakaway score with the last play of the opening 40 minutes and Graham Charlesworth’s conversion gave Boothtown the lead against the run of play.
However, Terriers overpowered Ovenden down the slope, adding five more tries for a convincing success in what was a battle of champions.
Boothtown had banked the Pennine League Division One title the previous Saturday when beating Lindley Swifts and now only Siddal’s second team stand between them and a treble in their 30th anniversary season.
The pair meet in the Halifax top four play-off final at Brighouse Rangers on Friday.
Ovenden, the Division Two champions, were left with the difficult task of trying to lift themselves for Bank Holiday Monday’s final triple header at Batley. They face Greetland Allrounders for the Andrew Bennett Memorial Trophy in the second game at 1.15.
The Woodhead pitch had made a miraculous recovery from Friday’s snow and a firmish surface looked likely to suit Ovenden, who fielded a lightweight side looking to give bigger, stronger opponents the runaround.
In an error-strewn opening, laden with knock-ons and penalties for high tackles, the Four Fields side opened the scoring after 10 minutes when scrum half Sean Dyson’s short pass sent in centre Jason Dodd on the left for an unconverted try.
Ovenden got the ball over the try line twice more in the first half but lost the ball in the face of determined scrambling defence from the Terriers, who also had spells of pressure deep in opposition territory.
Bradley cracked the Ovenden defence seconds before the interval and his lung-bursting 70 metre run up the hill paid off, Charlesworth converting.
Terriers prop Craig Boothroyd was unstoppable from close range three minutes after the break and although Ovenden went close through Chris Moran and Jack Sutcliffe, the 55th minute yellow card issued to Sean Smith for dissent proved a hammer blow.
Boothtown scored three times in his absence.
Man of the match Graham Rowlinson dived over, after being ankle-tapped just short of the line; burly Scott Lindsey’s expert off-load allowed hooker Jordan Hall to touch down; and stand off Graham Charlesworth produced that deadly combination of pace and a side-step to bag his side’s fifth try.
Two conversions from scrum half Liam Walsh helped Boothtown take a decisive 26-4 lead.
Ovenden did not throw in the towel. Nice work out on the left form Chris Moran and Dyson enabled hard-working winger Luke O’Mara to score a deserved try, converted by Dyson.
However, their flagging defence was unable to cope with Charlesworth, who had suddenly come alive and zigzagged his way to another try, converted by Walsh.
Ovenden had the final say with a long-range effort set up by O’Mara and finished by Dodd, Reece Ogden converting. But it was very much Boothtown’s day.