Success as cup proves no handicap to Warriors

Luke Sagar and John Handscomb of Whitehall Warriors
Luke Sagar and John Handscomb of Whitehall Warriors

THE Warriors turned up to the Handicap Cup Final in a confident mood after beating Brighouse and Illingworth in previous rounds, writes Richard Ingham.

The opening exchanges were fierce as former professional Chris Norman led the Irish side around the field but came up against a strong Warriors defence led by Mark Bolger, Dan Kelly and Mark Airey.

Irish, still confident after Bank Holiday Monday’s Pennne President’s Cup Final win over Drighlington, started brightly with two tries in the first 10 minutes by former Halifax player Chris Norman. Neither were converted.

Warriors, still slow out of the blocks, fell further behind as Jack Holmes barged over in the corner for another four-pointer but luckily for the Warriors the Irish were having an off day with the boot.

The Warriors then woke up with the introduction of big Prop Jamie Holroyd and Danny Golding-Smith, who stopped the Irish onslaught with some big tackles and big drives down field to give the Warriors some much needed territory.

On the half hour mark, Irish created a huge overlap to send full-back Tony Sheard racing in for a converted try to bring the score to 50-18 in favour of the Warriors.

The Warriors were finding the pace hard at times but excellent half back play by Feeley and hooker Lee Nellist sent hard working second row Andrew Johnson down field to the Irish half.

A clever high kick by man of the match Andrew Feeley caused problems for the Irish winger who fumbled giving Warriors a scrum on the 30-metre line.

From the resulting scrum quick hands by James Spivey, and an awesome one handed pass from Alex Scargill, sent John Sagar flying down the wing using his pace and power to score out wide right on half-time to bring the score to 54 – 18 in favour of the Warriors at the break.

Warriors came flying out of the blocks in the second half and shocked the Irish with some strong runs and brutal tackles from Luke Sagar, Ross Williams and Steve ‘Disco’ Helliwell which resulted in a high shot from the defence on Sagar.

Helliwell took the two on offer and stretched the Warriors lead.

As the Irish continued to be frustrated, they could not handle the probing runs from winger Ashley Caine and Brocklehurst laid on to give the Warriors another penalty and another shot at goal, which Jamie Holroyd accepted.

As the Irish tired, the speed stars in the Warriors team started punching holes in the Irish defence with Spivey, John Handscomb and that man Caine causing threat after threat.

The Irish then showed why they are among the best sides in Calderdale as their quick plays and superb hands finally sent Sheard in for his second converted try.

Handscomb then stepped up to show why he is a huge favourite among the Whitehall team and fans as the 17-year-old cut the Irish defence in two and sprinted in for a try under the sticks, which Holroyd once again converted.

The Warriors, still wanting more, nearly got close to beating the Irish without the handicap as Nellist, who was a threat all night, and Luke Sagar, punching way above his weight, sent Handscomb through again but the slippery conditions cost him as he slipped just short of the line.

As the full time whistle blew there were delighted scenes as the Warriors won their first trophy.

A special mention went to Nathaniel Greenwood as he was the unlucky player to be left out of the side on this occasion, but has been a credit to the club all season.

The Warriors would like to thank the coaching staff, the commitment of the players and all involved in the club for making it a successful season, which will hopefully result in promotion.