Romp for Rishies in crunch game

Old Rishworthians vs Pontefract
Ed Cockroft scores
Old Rishworthians vs Pontefract Ed Cockroft scores

Rishworthians took their nearest challengers Pontefract apart yesterday, winning 41-7 at Copley to stake a major claim for promotion from Yorkshire Two.

The bonus point win left the second-placed side 12 points clear of Pontefract, who they play again next week away in the Yorkshire Shield.

While they now have promotion clearly in their sights, player-coach Chris Stone has his feet firmly on the ground.

“This was a good win for us in an important game, but the job’s not done yet,” he said.

“We have a lot of good players, who did not make the team for this game, but we are going to need that strength in depth in the coming weeks and we are really focusing on the game at Moortown in two weeks,” he said.

Moortown currently lead Rishworthians by nine points and a win there could almost seal the Copley club’s promotion.

Pontefract arrived keen to make up the seven-point deficit and were in charge for the opening minutes.

But once Rishworthians scored, that was it.

The home pack was totally dominant throughout. They were quick to the breakdown and had good lineout possession through Fraser Swarbrooke, Ben Robinson and Jacob Bower.

In the scrums they were in complete control, with the front row of Anthony Nathaniel, Stone, Phil Kershaw and replacement prop Ryan Mudd outstanding throughout.

For the first five minutes Rishworthians had to defend well and finally won a turnover to break out. The ball went to teenage centre Sam Nunn, who burst through on a searing run before kicking ahead.

He and left wing Anthony Shoesmith both got to touch down the wickedly bouncing ball, but Nunn’s hand was there first.

Josh Kelly added the conversion and then kicked a penalty as Rishworthians started to take complete control.

Centre Taniela Bakoso and flanker Nick Faulkner took play close to the line before Kelly dummied his way over and converted.

When he then converted a try by Stone, who was put over with a short pass from scrum half Ed Cockroft, the writing was on the wall. He then added a penalty to make it 27-0 at half-time.

Soon after the restart, Cockroft was on hand again to dart through from a ruck to score the bonus point try, which was converted by Kelly.

Rishworthians were in complete control and created a number of chances, but were unable to finish them off.

No 8 James Clarke was denied as he went over in a mass of players, but he was on hand straight away to touch down a pushover try, which Kelly converted to bring his tally of points from the game to 21.

Eager to restore some pride, Pontefract fought back strongly and scored a consolation try which was converted with the last act of the game.

It was a great team performance from Rishworthians and as well as the attacking flair there was strong defence from the Flanagan brothers, Chris and Luke, while in the pack replacements Callum Heseltine and Jack Smart kept up the pressure on the visitors.