Old Rishworthians’ strength in depth was tested to the limit away to Thornensians yesterday but the promoted Copley men came through it with a 36-28 away win.
They drafted in Alex Bell from college in Northumberland, Chris Dyson after a two- year absence and veteran prop Martin Brooke for the tough Yorkshire Two clash .
They and teenagers Antony Sykes and James McHugh, who had helped in last week’s victory over Wetherby, all performed well in a team which had a number of players playing out of position.
In spite of having 13 players missing from their squad, they were still able to register a bonus point win.
Lock Callum Heseltine, playing at No 8, caught the ball confidently from the kick-off to set the visitors up for a 10-minute period of dominance which saw them spread the ball wide and make inroads into the home defence.
Fullback Luke Flanagan almost broke through before the ball came back across the field and prop Phil Kershaw popped up to crash over.
The home side finally got possession and forced a penalty to reduce the arrears.
From the restart Rishworthians forced a penalty, but Josh Kelly’s kick hit the post.
However, another penalty was quickly taken and a long pass found player-coach Chris Stone out wide and he put the supporting Dyson in at the corner.
The home side hit back strongly, first adding a penalty to double their score and then taking advantage of a missed tackle in the centre to score a converted try.
The strong home pack drove the visitors back and spun the ball wide for a try in the corner.
Just before the break Rishworthians moved the ball well in the backs and Jacob Ford finished off in the corner. Kelly converted to leave the visitors trailing 18–17 at the break.
There was a determined attitude from the Copley men from the restart and a superb long pass from Ford put left wing Anthony Shoesmith in at the corner, but he was ruled held up.
The same ruling was applied after scrum half Ed Cockroft, centre Matthew Hunt- Brown and backs replacement Chris Flanagan, who had to play for a spell at No 8, all crossed the line.
Rishworthians kept up the pressure and good linking play between centre Joe Billing and Luke Flanagan brought the bonus point try for Cockroft, who burst through to touch down.
The visitors soon got their fifth try as Billing spotted the defence was up quickly and chipped over, regathering his kick to cruise over for a brilliant try. Kelly converted.
As Rishworthians relaxed a little, the home side gathered a loose ball and ran through wide open spaces to score their third try.
Cockroft was then on hand with a quickly take penalty to put Stone in at the corner and then add the conversion.
In the final minutes the home side hit back with a try after finding a gaping hole in the Rishworthian defence, but it was too little too late.