Siddal ground out a third National Conference League win of the season with an 18-10 win over Egremont Rangers in a tough encounter with their Cumbrian visitors.
Prop Gareth English turned in another terrific performance while rugby union convert centre Chester Butler again took the eye in defence and attack.
Siddal took a rather fortunate lead after five minutes. English slipped a short pass to Ross White in midfield but the ball hit his knee and propelled 30 yards forward. With Egremont hesitating, thinking a knock on had occurred, White hacked the loose ball past the fullback and re-gathered to score by the side of the posts. Stand off Liam Coe added an easy conversion. Egremont almost replied when Siddal fullback Freddie Walker failed to control a last tackle kick and the ball bounced back to the onrushing visiting scrum half. The number seven decided to kick into the undefended Siddal in-goal area but his touch was too strong.
Walker almost atoned for his error when fine handling by Chris Brooke, Craig Sanderson and Billy Hammond put him within touching distance of the Egremont try line. He reached out to place the ball down but referee Gareth Evans ruled he had knocked on.
Egremont opened their account in the 11th minute. Again it was rather fortunate as a high kick on the last tackle bounced high and at an angle that took it away from Walker. James McDonald ran on to score but centre Ross Brookes couldn’t add the goal.
The visitors hit the front three minutes later with a well constructed try. Hooker Matthew Henson broke from a play the ball in midfield and McDonald sent left wing Jack Stainton in at the corner for an unconverted try and 6-8.
On 22 minutes that lead was increased by Brookes penalty but Egremont failed to prevent the Siddal restart from going dead and had to drop out from under their own posts. After a bout of sustained pressure, English fooled the defence with a deft dummy at a play the ball and he coasted over the try line. Coe’s goal put Siddal 12-10 up and that is how it stayed until half time.
Siddal failed to take stop the second half kick off by Egremont from going into touch and were pinned in their own 20 metre zone. Right wing Richard Lopag was twice forced to send the ball dead to prevent an Egremont score.
Despite the successive restarts from under their posts, Siddal’s defence held firm and this was a turning point in the game. English, George Ambler and Iain Davies were beginning to get on top of the visiting pack and took Siddal upfield.
Hooker Craig Sanderson was also beginning to make good yards from acting half and it was one such run in the 56th minute that set up the decisive score for centre Butler, who powered through from 20 metres to score a fine try. Coe couldn’t add the difficult conversion but hits 62nd minute penalty, when English was prevented from playing the ball, put two more points between the teams.
In the final 10 minutes a couple of back to back penalties for Egremont took them deep into Siddal territory.
The home side lifted their defensive effort with subs Danny Gregory and Sean McCormack working overtime and Hammond twice preventing Egremont from breaking through.
Some fine tactical kicking from Coe in the closing minutes helped see Siddal ease to victory.