32 points for Siddal’s Gareth

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Siddal made it three home wins on the bounce at the start of their National Conference League title defence with yesterday’s 48-16 thumping of a Leigh Miners Rangers side they beat in last October’s Grand Final.

The star of the show was England Lions winger Gareth Blackburn, who maintained his fine form with four tries and eight conversions for a 32 point haul.

The hosts mounted early pressure but the visitors took the lead in the sixth minute when hard working prop Darryl Kay went through a large gap to score by the posts. Fullback Jonny Youds added the easy conversion.

Siddal were jolted into action and drew level on 10 minutes. Forwards Iain Davies, Byron Smith and Jack Matthews took play to the visitors’ line and skipper Shaun Garrod put a superb grubber kick into the in goal area where Blackburn pounced. The winger knocked over a superb conversion from the touchline.

Play became messy but once Siddal were able to play the ball quickly, Garrod again kicked through for Blackburn but the touch judge ruled that the winger was offside.

Leigh cleared their lines only briefly. Siddal scrum half Kyle Ackroyd moved the ball right and fullback Freddie Walker and centre Joe Martin set up right winger Ben West, who neatly stepped inside the last defenders. Blackburn’s goal put Siddal 12-6 ahead on the half hour mark.

Within two minutes Sean McCormack had glided under the posts, but the referee deemed Garrod’s inside pass forward.

Miners responded with some good drives down the middle from Kay, Andy Philbin and hooker Dave Rowlands and on 36 minutes second row Mark Nicholson lost the ball as he stretched out to score.

In the final minute of the half the ball landed in the arms of Siddal centre Zack McComb from a poor Miners kick and he ran unopposed from half way to go under the posts, Blackburn’s kick making it 18-6.

Miners pulled back four points on 47 minutes when centre Michael O’Boyle took advantage of weak Siddal defence on the right flank but Siddal scored three converted tries in six minutes to dash the visitors’ hopes.

Jack Georgiou, Jack Matthews and Danny Williams began to punch holes in the Miners defensive line and quick play the balls had the opposition in retreat.

On 52 minutes Garrod fired a beautiful long pass to the left where the ever alert Blackburn timed his run to perfection and sped past his opposite number and fullback Youds to score in the left corner. A brilliant conversion made it 24-10.

Siddal visibly stepped up a gear. On 55 minutes Joe Martin added try number five after a pass from Garrod, who then fired a quick, flat pass which cut out two teammates and Blackburn shot down the touchline to complete his hat-trick. Blackburn added both goals and on 64 minutes it became 42-10 as the Garrod to Blackburn theme continued with the Miners right side defence now in tatters.

Leigh stemmed the tide a little when Philbin wriggled over and Youds added his second conversion but McComb grabbed his second with five minutes left, cleverly evading two Miners defenders, and Blackburn’s perfect afternoon was completed by his eighth conversion.