Siddal got their NCL Premier Division season off the ground at the third attempt with a fine 14-12 victory over Lock Lane under the lights at Castleford on Friday evening.
After three consecutive losses and three poor performances - one of them in the Challenge Cup against Featherstone Lions - it was a ‘different’ Siddal side that turned up, showing grit and determination from numbers one to 17.
Ex-Ovenden prop Gareth English was promoted to the starting line up and led from the front. A master at the off-load, the main beneficiary was fullback Scott Caley, playing his first game of the season, who made three breaks deep into home territory.
The Chevinedge men were on top in the first quarter as forwards George Ambler, Ross White and Danny Williams followed English’s lead. Their determined running ensured half-back Chris Brooke was able to produce attacking last tackle kicks.
However, Lock Lane’s back three fielded those kicks well and the home side took the lead against the run of play after 20 minutes. Scrum half Danny Rowse, who possesses an excellent kicking game, put up a last tackle ‘bomb’ that Siddal couldn’t safely diffuse and the ball bounced kindly for right winger Adam Garlick to run 20 metres unopposed to touch down to the right of the posts. Rowse converted.
Siddal pressed the Lock Lane line but the home defence repelled centre Chester Butler and then left winger Gareth Blackburn, who both went close to the try line.
On 30 minutes a break by Lock Lane’s Chris Siddons straight down the centre of the field had Siddal scrambling and though the tackle was made, Rowse spotted there was no cover on Siddal’s right and cleverly punted the ball to the corner for his left winger, James Cryer, to complete an easy touch down. Rowse converted from the touchline for 12-0.
Siddal needed to respond before half time and another bout of pressure inside Lane’s 20 metre zone paid dividends when a little grubber kick into the in goal area by English was chased by Williams and he was first to get hands to the ball. Blackburn couldn’t convert but the half ended with Siddal in touch and with momentum.
Siddal had Lock Lane penned in their own half and only Rowse’s kicking lifted the pressure.
Iain Davies and debutant Freddy Walker were punching holes down the middle and on 55 minutes Siddal struck from just inside their own half. Fast hands through half-backs Chris Brooke and Liam Coe enabled second row Tom Garratt to blast though a large gap in the home defence and stride 40 metres to score in the right corner. Liam Coe couldn’t add a difficult conversion but at 12-8 Siddal were right back in the game.
Blackburn had a try in the corner ruled out on the nod of the touch judge and as Siddal players remonstrated, Rowse fired a 40-20. Great defence though kept the line in tact and Lane were visibly feeling the pace.
Craig Sanderson and Sean McCormack were driving Siddal on with clever, incisive breaks from the play the ball area and this had the home side back pedalling and conceding penalties. Siddal could smell victory and struck the decisive blow on 70 minutes through Ross White who took three defenders over the line to level the scores. Brooke goaled to put Siddal into the lead for the first time.
Siddal looked the more likely scorers in the last 10 minutes but they had a scare in the final minute as Lane broke down the middle of the field from their own 20 metre line. The visitors were penalised for holding down but Rowse’s long distance effort faded to the right of the posts.