Northern Rail Cup round-up

After a weather-hit opening day, the Northern Rail Cup was kick-started by some cracking games on its second weekend of the season.

Holders Widnes came from 14 points behind in the final quarter to draw 30-30 against a formidable Batley side at Mount Pleasant. The Vikings, fresh from a 50-6 win over Gateshead in midweek, found themselves behind for much of the match against a Bulldog side led ably round the park by Paul Handforth and Gareth Moore. The 2007 and 2009 champions looked down and out when Anthony Thackeray was sinbinned with little more than 15 minutes on the clock, but a brace of tries from Shaun Ainscough and Thackeray upon his return set it up for Shane Grady to coolly slot home the game-tying conversion.

Championship 1 side York pulled off the shock of the round, defeating Leigh 13-12 at Huntington Stadium. Ian Millward’s men found themselves 12-2 down at the break, and although they fought back through Dave Alstead and Dave McConnell, a spilled ball in their own half proved costly, as York player-coach Chris Thorman stepped up with the decisive one pointer.

A point was also the difference at Cougar Park, where Danny Jones‘ drop goal edged Keighley past Whitehaven 17-16, while elsewhere, Championship sides Featherstone and Sheffield battled to an 18-18 draw. The home side’s kicking proved costly, with just one conversion from four tries. Jonny Woodcock successfully converted all three of the Eagles tries to give each team two points.

Last year’s finalists Barrow started with a comfortable 34-8 win over Blackpool, with new second-row pairing Michael Knowles and Richard Fletcher sharing the kicking duties. Championship big-boys Halifax also got underway with a victory, defeating Dewsbury 24-0 and ending the Rams lengthy unbeaten run.

Elsewhere, Hunslet thrashed London 60-12 while Gateshead slipped to their second defeat in less than a week, beaten 26-12 at home by Workington. Gavin Dodd kicked five from five to help Swinton overcome Doncaster 30-20 at Park Lane.

And after finally finding somewhere to play their opening match of the season, Oldham defeated local rivals Rochdale 22-14, with Matty Ashe scoring four goals to get their campaign back on track following last weekend’s 24-12 defeat at Leigh.

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