No one likes to be defeated but the manner in which Thornhill Trojans’ GMB BARLA National Cup campaign came to a bitterly disappointing end was controversial to say the least. Despite attempted words of consolation such as, “the best team lost”, “you were robbed”, “you should be in the next round” and “it was never forward”, from the West Hull officials and supporters after the game, there was little comforting the Trojans as they left Humberside.
The controversy surrounded the influence which the Hull and District touch judges had over Warrington referee Paul Marklove. Time and time again the touch judges intervened to ensure decisions went in favour of the West Hull team. Eventually, despite a Herculean effort from the Trojans which saw them swim against a tide of injustice they finally had the rug pulled from under them as the game ended in heartbreak.
As the game entered the closing moments Thornhill had the West Hull team on the rack and made one final push for the try line. Good runs from Danny Lee and Daniel Annakin took the try line within range. Then Vinnie Johnson broke away and sent out a defence splitting pass which put Liam Morley clear and over for a kickable try. The referee was right on the spot and gave the try. The Thornhill players rushed in to mob a delighted Liam Morley and the travelling supporters celebrated. But then it happened! The games final insult. After having given the try referee went over to Hull and District touch judge Dave Allen. After a brief consultation the Hull and District touch judge convinced the referee that the final pass from Vinnie Johnson had been forward and he should change his mind about awarding the try. To the dismay of the Thornhill players the referee changed his mind about awarding the try, called for a scrum down and West Hull were through to the next round of the cup by the skin of their teeth.
It was a shame the game had to end in such controversial style as the Trojans had performed valiantly throughout and kept their cool in the face of some unfair intervention from the Hull and District Touch Judges.
Man of the match for the Trojans was the irrepressible Johnny Campbell at full back. His running onto the ball to join the attacking line was fearless and for his efforts he collected two well taken tries. Unfortunately, the controversy at the end of the game took the attention away from a serious leg injury sustained by Campbell in the closing moments. After being carried off the field in some pain Campbell was taken to hospital for checks
James Folan was another player in fine form, particularly in the games opening stages as he took the game to West Hull with some strong and direct running. This good running was also matched by Scott Woodcock who refused to take a backwards step in the face of the big West Hull pack.
Thornhill went at West Hull from the off and looked to have scored inside the games opening minutes when Rob Copley broke clear and went over in the corner. However, this score was ruled out when Hull and District Touch Judge Dave Allen ruled that Copley had stepped into touch.
Undeterred by the decision at this early stage of the game Thornhill once again pressed for the try line. Matthew Roberts combined with Anthony Broadhead to perform a perfectly executed run around. The move ended when Johnny Campbell came charging onto a pass from Anthony Broadhead and ploughed over for a try. Craig Holmes converted.
Thornhill continued to press forward with Scott Dyson pinning West Hull back with some telling kicks. However, West Hull hit back with a good try and caught Thornhill out with a series of slick off loads in the tackle. Play was kept alive and the ball worked out to winger Lee Craig who showed good speed to run round the outside of the Thornhill defence and over for a try. Karl Puckering converted to level the score.
With the scores now level the game went up in intensity and the way the high speed of play was maintained was a credit to both teams. There was then a brief moment of controversy when a West Hull player clearly dropped with his knees on the tackled Johnny Campbell right in front of a Hull and District Touch Judge. The Hull and District Touch Judge appeared to turn a blind eye to this foul play and play was allowed to go on. This was until Rob Copley was deemed to have tackled too high and the Hull and District Touch Judged didn’t hesitate to bring the matter to the referee’s attention. Moments later West Hull were awarded anther penalty and this time opted to go for goal from out wide. West Hull’s Karl Puckering made a fair attempt at the kick and was briefly on the receiving end of a consolation hand clap for his effort as the ball had clearly gone wide of the mark. There was then an eerie silence of disbelief as both Hull and District touch judges raised their flags to indicate that they thought the kick was on target thereby giving the West Hull team a two point lead.
Thornhill took the decision on the chin and set about rectifying the situation. Eventually, with play close to the try line a quick play the ball saw a Scott Dyson pass find Craig Holmes who in turn sent Scott Redgwick diving over for an unconverted try in the corner. This gave Thornhill a 10-8 interval lead.
Thornhill made a strong opening to the second half and a couple of penalty goals from Craig Holmes appeared to be putting the Trojans ever nearer a place in the next round. However, the run of play suddenly changed and Thornhill were forced to go through a long period of defending their own line. The West Hull team suddenly had a purple patch and scored three tries in the space of eight minutes to amass a ten point lead.
First West Hull broke up field and Brian Newby scored an unconverted try in the corner. This was followed with another try when with play on the last tackle the ball was chipped forward. West Hull followed the kick and kept play alive. The ball was kept alive and Lee Craig went over for a try in the corner. Karl Puckering converted. A final try from West Hull swiftly followed from Lee Craig in the corner which Puckering converted.
It was now backs to the wall time for the Trojans as they looked to recover from these three scores.
In the games final five minutes Richard Pachniuk combined with Anthony Broadhead to send Johnny Campbell over for a try between the posts. Craig Holmes converted and there was now only four points in it.
It was then in the final minute that Vinnie Johnson appeared to have done it and put Liam Morley over for a try. As the referee pointed to the spot to award the try Thornhill’s elation quickly turned to anger and disbelief and the Hull and District Touch Judge had the final say on the matter to ensure it was West Hull who went into the draw for the next round.
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