Northern Rail Cup round-up

Holders Batley face a battle to reach the knock-out stages of the Northern Rail Cup after Leigh gained revenge for last season’s semi-final defeat.

At a wind-swept Mount Pleasant, Leigh made a blistering start, racking up a 14-0 lead within the first 15 minutes that they were never to squander. Despite Alex Brown‘s try early in the second half, Ian Millward’s side kept the Bulldogs at arms length, and secured a 24-4 victory through Stuart Donlan and Robbie Hunter-Paul.

It meant no bonus point for Batley, who must now navigate through tricky ties against Halifax, Hunslet and Gateshead if they are to progress in their defence of the trophy.

Barrow were made to work hard for the win in Garry Schofield’s first competitive match in charge of the club. With the conditions not really suiting the expansive style of play that the former Great Britain international is known to encourage, the Raiders struggled to break free from their opponents.

They led 12-0 in the first half thanks to three unconverted tries from Ned Catic, Mark Gleeson and James Nixon but York were right back in it by half time courtesy of tries from Jonny Presley and Ryan Esders at 12-10.

Schofield rattled the Raiders in to action at the start of the second half, and they scored two quick fire tries through Nixon and Martin Ostler, both converted by Jamie Rooney to move 24-10 in front, but the Knights earned themselves a well deserved bonus point through two late tries which ensured the game went all the way down to the wire.

Widnes overcame an early scare to record a comfortable 62-18 win in London. Matt Thomas and Luke May had the Skolars in front twice early on at 6-0 and then 8-6, before the Vikings managed to cut loose, running in 11 tries, including two each for the impressive Danny Craven, who also landed nine goals, and winger Paddy Flynn.

Championship 1 side Gateshead put up a spirited fight to earn themselves a credible bonus point in their game against Sheffield. Menzie Yere helped himself to a hat-trick for the Eagles, who led 16-0 at half time, but they were made to work hard for their victory, as Gateshead won the second half 20-16 to make the full time score 32-20 in the Eagles’ favour.

Newly promoted Hunslet suffered defeat against old rivals Oldham, who will be buoyed by this win against higher league opposition. In a close match through, John Clough‘s try proved to be decisive, as the Roughyeds won the see-saw affair 28-22.

Jason Demetriou recorded victory in his first game as a coach, leading his Keighley side to a 24-6 win against Rochdale. Gavin Duffy scored a brace of tries as the Cougars proved too strong for the Hornets.

On Saturday, Toulouse won their very first Northern Rail Cup game with a high scoring 40-38 victory over spirited Dewsbury Rams in the south of France.

Olympique were well served by new halfback signing Josh Lewis who scored a try and kicked six goals on debut while other tries came from Teli Pelo, Bruno Ormeno (2) and Eric Anselme (2). The result was in the balance right until the end of the game when hooker Craig Cook picked up where he left off at Sheffield last year with the final try. The talented number nine registered 19 tries with the Eagles last term and could prove an inspired signing for the French club.

Dewsbury scored tries through Luke Menzies, Scott Turner and James Lockwood while both Austin Buchanan and James Craven claimed two tries each. The Rams trailed 22-16 at half-time and Dominic Brambani’s 5 goals kept them in touch before Cook popped up at the end.

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