The Championship Chat: Summer Bash edition

Round 15 of the Kingstone Press Championship was played in Blackpool this weekend as the Summer Bash returned for a second year at Bloomfield Road. It was an eventful couple of days to say the least and now it’s time to look over the results and talking points that left people purring after the second tier showed its worth in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

London beat Sheffield in Blackpool again
Andrew Henderson’s London Broncos didn’t play to their usual high standards but still managed to pick up a rather comfortable 32-14 victory over Sheffield Eagles. Following on from a thrilling iPro Sport Cup Final between Keighley Cougars and York City Knights, in which the former won by four points, the Broncos broke the deadlock through Rhys Williams before Sheffield struck with two tries of their own. Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Cory Aston gave the steel city club a six-point lead but London soon came into their own and finished the half with three more tries to their name. Nick Slyney, Matt Garside and Alex Foster all touched down for the capital club as the scoreline read 20-10 at the break. Two consecutive tries from the Broncos after the restart put the result beyond any doubt. Prop forwards Mark Offerdahl and Eddie Battye both crossed the try line within ten minutes of each other, prior to Rob Worrincy registering a consolation effort for an Eagles side who are really struggling at this moment in time.

Whitehaven scrape past Workington
In the second Championship game of the event, Whitehaven did their survival chances a whole world of good by beating Workington Town 28-24 in what turned out to be a gripping encounter. It was Haven who held a 22-16 lead after half-time thanks to tries from Dave Allen, Chris Taylor and Jesse Joe Parker as well as two penalty goals from Louis Jouffret. Jarrod Sammut registered two of his three tries in the first half while Callum Phillips also got on the scoresheet for Phil Veivers’ side. Craig Calvert notched an important score in the opening few minutes of the second half to extend his side’s advantage to two scores but, when Declan Hulme replied for Town, it was game on once again. Another Jouffret penalty goal made the score 28-20 before Sammut completed his hat-trick on 67 minutes. Town kept the heat on their fellow Cumbrian counterparts for the remainder of the match but Haven didn’t buckle, to the delight of their fans.

Leigh and Bradford end day one with thrilling battle

If ever struggling Super League clubs needed a reminder about the quality that some Championship teams possess, they only had to switch their TV’s to Sky Sports on Saturday evening to witness Leigh and Bradford battle it out. The Centurions won the match 24-20 after a last minute Micky Higham try. Moments before, Danny Addy had put the Bulls ahead by two points with a converted score but Leigh never gave up and they got their reward. The half-time score was 10-10 after tries from Bradford’s Danny Williams and Mitch Clark as well as Leigh’s Liam Kay and Josh Drinkwater. The Centurions hit the front for the first time in the match after 43 minutes when Adam Higson acrobatically crossed the whitewash. Reynolds converted from the corner and even added a penalty goal soon after to put two scores between the teams. However, two tries on the spin from Bradford flipped the game upside down and the Bulls were within touching distance of a great win. Adam O’Brien and Addy were the try-scorers but there was one more twist yet to come and it proved heartbreaking for the West Yorkshire outfit. Drinkwater dabbed a grubber into the in-goal area with two minutes left on the clock and Higham reacted quickest to send the Leigh fans into wild celebration, which echoed around the ground.

Bulldogs go third with Heavy Woollen wi
In the Heavy Woollen Derby by the sea, Batley Bulldogs defeated Dewsbury Rams 28-24. Batley were very slow out of the blocks and after 13 minutes, they found themselves 12-0 down following tries from Jason Crookes and Paul Sykes. However, John Kear’s men slowly edged into the contest and, thanks to tries from Chris Ulugia and Greg Minikin, they were only two points down on the 25 minute mark. A Walker penalty goal levelled matters before Dewsbury had the final say of the first period through Dale Morton. A big Sykes punt downfield wrong-footed the Bulldogs winger and Dale Morton was the beneficiary as he stormed past Dave Scott on his way to the try-line. The conversion was successful and the half-time score was 18-12. A Sykes penalty goal after half-time made Batley’s job even harder but, in stereotypical fashion, they kept battling and were in the lead after 55 minutes. Ever-present forwards James Brown and Tom Lillycrop both touched down for the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium side, who hardly performed to their best on the day. Dalton Grant tied the game up during the final quarter as, for the second year running in Blackpool, he scored a try in mid-air against Batley. Sykes couldn’t put the Rams in the lead as he struck wide with the conversion which left the door open for Batley’s experienced heads to guide the team home. Walker kicked a penalty goal and a drop goal in the final stages of the match, before scrum-half Dom Brambani also tagged on a one-pointer as the Bulldogs saw the game out.  Results later on in the day meant that Batley would finish the day third in the Kingstone Press Championship table. Qualifiers-bound?

Drama as Swinton beat Oldham by one
Swinton Lions made amends for their loss in Blackpool last year by conquering Oldham Roughyeds 25-24. Matty Beharrell proved to be the hero for the Lions as he scored their final try as well as the decisive drop goal with two minutes left on the clock. The first half well and truly belonged to Oldham, who were 20-0 up at the interval. Kenny Hughes, Danny Langtree and Adam Files all claimed four pointers for the Roughyeds. Also during the half was a penalty goal from half-back Lewis Palfrey, who directed play professionally in the first period. Whatever John Duffy said to his troops at half-time was gold dust as Swinton came back to win the game with an outstanding second half performance. Two converted tries in quick succession from Macauley Hallett and Chris Atkin had cut the deficit to just eight points with the half only five minutes old. The belief had started to come back on the pitch, and most certainly in the stands as the Lions supporters – wearing their ‘Viva Josh Barlow’ t-shirts – roared their team on. Rhodri Lloyd barrelled his way over for four points during the final quarter and when Atkin converted to make the score 20-18 to Oldham, it was anybody’s game. Beharrell completed the comeback as an audacious chip-and-chase worked to perfection. The halfback scored underneath the sticks before trying his best to kick the ball into the stand but instead ended up shanking it into the front row. One hell of a celebration, that’s for sure! Atkin added the extras but there was still time for Oldham to respond. They did just that. Winger Adam Clay burrowed his way across the chalk moments after big prop forward Michael Ward had crushed a wannabe Lions tackler. Then the controversy occurred. Palfrey put boot to ball and, as it sailed through the air, a group of Oldham fans started to celebrate behind the sticks only to have their cheers abruptly cut by the two touch judges who waved away the claims. Oldham got the ball back from kick-off but knocked on inside their own half and that left Swinton with a golden opportunity to snatch the win. Snatch it is exactly what they did as, unlike his try celebration earlier on in the game, Beharrell struck the ball as sweet as a nut and the one-pointer sent the Lions fans berserk.

A Fax masterclass
As perfect a performance as you will see by any team, anywhere, all season. Halifax dominated their match with Featherstone Rovers from start to finish, as you could probably work out by the 37-0 scoreline. Fax were 27-0 up at half-time after the Rovers completely collapsed in front of the TV cameras. Two tries came inside the opening nine minutes from Adam Tangata and Gareth Moore, the latter registering his four pointer from 80 metres out via an interception. A Moore drop goal on 29 minutes put three scores between the teams but it soon got worse for Jon Sharp’s men. Matt Sarsfield and Ben Johnston both helped themselves to tries in the closing stages of the first half. And, on the final play of the half, Featherstone ended up conceding a penalty underneath their own sticks which brought out even more frustration from their fans. Tyrer added the extras. Misi Taulapapa was sin-binned on 44 minutes for kicking the ball out of a Ben Heaton’s hands while the Fax player was in the act of scoring. The numerical advantage didn’t do many favours for Halifax as they didn’t register any more points until Taulapapa was back on the field. James Saltonstall and Steve Tyrer crossed the whitewash either side of the hour mark as Richard Marshall’s side surpassed the 30-point mark for the contest.