Siddal's great escape
Siddal suffered a major scare before retaining their 100 per cent National Conference League record this season with a 32-24 home win over Kells yesterday.
The champions were stunned when the visitors from Cumbria took an 18-0 lead within 25 minutes and they were still 12 points down with 10 minutes left.
However, the Chevinedge men scored four late tries to snatch the spoils from the deflated visitors.
Kells surged into a big lead with tries from scrum half Dom Wear and centre partners Scott Lofthouse and Craig Benson.
Stand off Ross Gainford added two conversions to an early penalty goal as the visitors prospered with a heavy penalty count in their favour.
Gareth Greenwood’s hosts responded with a Ben West try on the half hour mark after good work by half-backs Kyle Ackroyd and Shaun Garrod.
Gareth Blackburn added the conversion to give Siddal some hope for the second half at 6-18.
Kells began the second half as they had the first and collected their fourth try in the 44th minute through Lofthouse. Crucially Gainford couldn’t add the conversion so Kells’ lead wasn’t quite three converted tries.
The home crowd was in shock but Siddal’s fight back began on 49 minutes when fullback Joe Martin broke from deep, drew the Kells fullback and fed the supporting Iain Davies, who scored by the posts. Blackburn’s simple conversion made it 12-22.
Siddal were still up against it and the task got more difficult on 65 minutes when Blackburn was sent to the sin bin for alleged use of a knee in a tackle. Gainford struck the resultant 35 metre penalty goal to increase the visitors lead to 12 points.
It looked almost as unassailable lead but Siddal had other ideas. Scrum half Ackroyd began the comeback after going through a gap 20 metres out. He couldn’t convert but the momentum was swinging Siddal’s way.
Zack McComb then stepped up a gear and scored two tries in three minutes. His first on 75 minutes saw him squeeze in at the left hand corner after a fine Sean McCormack pass. Joe Martin added a great conversion from the left touchline and Siddal were just two behind at 22-24.
McComb’s second was a great individual effort as he beat several defenders on his way to touch down on the left. Blackburn couldn’t convert but Siddal were now two in front.
Kells were shell-shocked and Siddal took full advantage in the final set of the game. The ball was moved left by Garrod and Blackburn scored Siddal’s sixth try. Australia-bound Tom Garratt struck over the conversion.