Northern Rail Cup round-up

Dewsbury Rams welcomed visiting side Barrow Raiders to the Tetley’s Stadium for a contest that would see the winners progress through to the quarter-final stages of this seasons Northern Rail Cup while the losers would be eliminated from the competition and it was Dewsbury who came away with the spoils.

Ned Catic scored the opening try of the game just after the ten minute mark with Jamie Rooney converting to give the visitors an early lead but with both sides struggling to gain a foothold, three penalties from the boot of Dominic Brambani ensured the sides went into the break locked at 6-6.

It was Dewsbury who scored the opening points of the second half, when prop Anthony England scored his side’s only try of the game and a penalty from Brambani minutes later gave the Rams a 14-6 lead, but Barrow responded instantly through a converted Martin Ostler try to keep the scores tight at 14-12.

A fifth penalty from Brambani gave the Rams a 16-12 lead which Barrow couldn’t recover from, ensuring the Rams progress through to the knock-out stages. 

Defending Champions Batley Bulldogs faced a tough trip to last season’s Championship winners Halifax RLFC in a fight to remain in this season’s competition.

The Bulldogs couldn’t afford anything less than a win if they wanted to remain in contention to defend their trophy in the quarter-final stage and they kept their hopes of retaining the Cup alive after a nail-biting 25-24 victory over the home side.

Batley got off to a flying start when Sean Hesketh scored in only the third minute and they added three more tries to go into the half time break with a 22-6 lead – a converted Paul White try giving Halifax their only points of the half.

It was Halifax who got the early impetus in the second half however when prop Joe Chandler scored in the first minute and flying winger Rob Worrincy scored two tries in the space of five minutes, with the conversion giving Halifax a slender 24-22 lead on the 60 minute mark.

A penalty from Batley’s Paul Handforth levelled the scores going into the last ten minutes but Halifax’s Championship final hero Ben Black looked to have sealed the win for his side when he landed a 77th minute drop goal to give Halifax a narrow 25-24 lead.

But it was Batley’s Paul Handforth who had the last say in the match after Batley were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute. Handforth kept his cool to slot over the kick and secure an exhilarating 26-25 victory for the defending champions

In a battle of the only undefeated sides in Pool A between Featherstone Rovers and Widnes Vikings, it was the Vikings who came out 22-16 winners in a true game of two halves.

Widnes shot out of the blocks to establish a 12-0 lead in the opening ten minutes and it was a score line they added to, going into the half time break leading 18-0 having stifled Featherstone’s attack.

Widnes got the first points of the second half as well, with two Steve Tyrer kicks taking them to an emphatic looking 22-0 lead before Featherstone finally got their attack flowing and three tries in ten minutes from Stuart Dickens, Zak Hardaker and Sam Smeaton had the Vikings sweating and the score line reading 22-16 with five minutes remaining on the clock.

The Vikings held strong in the dying moments to maintain their 100 percent record in the competition with both sides progressing through to the quarter-final stages.

Toulouse Olympique secured their place in the quarter-finals following an impressive 34-22 victory over London Skolars who were coming off their best performance of the season against York City Knights last week.

Toulouse took an early lead through a Danny Nicholls try but a quick-fire double from London’s Ade Adebisi put the Skolars 10-6 up after 20 minutes. From then on Toulouse took control of the game scoring four unanswered tries to establish a 28-10 lead going into the final ten minutes of the game.

Skolars Talisman Neil Thorman crossed for his side before Dave Arnot added another to give the Skolars a glimmer of hope at 28-22, but it was Toulouse’s Brendan Worth who got on the score sheet next with his converted try sealing a third win of the competition for Toulouse.

Hunslet Hawks recorded an impressive 16-12 win over Sheffield Eagles.

Hunslet went into the half time interval with a 6-0 advantage following a converted Tommy Haughey try in the 13th minute of a half in which neither side could find their cutting edge.

Meze Yere crossed for Sheffield within three minutes of the second half to bring the sides level and a converted try from Corey Hanson gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead just after the 60th minute. However, it was Hunslet who enjoyed a resurgence in the final minutes and half-back Danny Grimshaw got his name on the score sheet to earn Hunslet a 16-12 victory.

Leigh Centurions ensured they progressed through to the quarter-finals as the only undefeated side in Pool B following a 42-12 win over Workington Town.

The Centurions led 18-6 at the half time break and continued their domination into the second half when they scored a further four tries to complete a resounding win.

A high scoring contest between Rochdale Hornets and Doncaster RLFC saw the teams share 76 points in a 40-36 thriller.

Rochdale got off to a flying start, amassing a 20-2 lead after only 20 minutes but in a game that swung back and forth throughout, it was Doncaster who went on to score five unanswered tries within a ten minute spell to give them a 26-20 lead at half-time.

Rochdale were first on the score sheet in the second half when Chris Hough scored a try after only four minutes before Doncaster responded with two tries of their own. Both sides scored again in quick succession to leave the score line 40-30 after 60 minutes.

The frenetic pace slowed in the last 20 minutes and Rochdale’s Liam McGovern scored the final try of the game on the 70th minute to make the final score 40-36 in favour of the Dons.

York City Knights looked to have secured a comfortable win over Keighley Cougars when the two sides met in their final Northern Rail Cup pool clash.

York got off to the brighter start, with Duane Straughier opening the scoring when he crossed the line after only 6 minutes, but neither side could find consistent momentum and it was York who went into the break with a 12- 6 lead.

Jonny Presley scored his second of the game early in the second half to give the Knights a comfortable looking 18-6 lead but Kieghley finally managed to get their attack firing and three tries from Brendan Rawlins, Paul Drake and Dan Belcher levelled the scored at 22-22 with under ten minutes remaining.

With only minutes left on the clock the game looked destined to end in a second successive draw for York but a converted try from Davies in the 77th minute gave the Knights a 6 point lead which the Cougars couldn’t overcome.

In the lowest scoring game of the weekend, Oldham Roughyeds fell to a 14-4 defeat against Whitehaven RLFC.

Oldham got off a good start, opening the scoring through Mark Brocklehurst after 16 minutes but the Roughyeds failed to build on their early form and tries from Andrew Beattie and Danny Barker along with a Lewis Palfrey penalty sealed the points for Whitehaven .

Swinton Lions inflicted a third successive heavy defeat on Gateshead Thunders succession following their 76-4 triumph.

Swinton scored seven tries in the first half including doubles for Richie Hawkyard and Dean Thompson to open up a 34-4 half time lead. Thompson competed his hat-trick three minutes into the second half and the Lions added seven more tries to finish with 15 tries from eleven scores.

Pool A Qualifiers.

Widnes Vikings, Featherstone Rovers, Dewsbury Rams and Toulouse Olympique have all qualified from Pool A of the Northern Rail Cup.

Pool B Qualifiers:

Leigh Centurions and Batley Bulldogs have secured their qualification for the knock-out rounds.

Halifax RLFC and Whitehaven RLFC have still to play their postponed week three game. A victory for either side would see them progress to the knock-out stages.

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