Illingworth let 10-point lead slip

Actions from Illingworth v Upton, at Mason Green. Pictured is Josh Baldwin try
Actions from Illingworth v Upton, at Mason Green. Pictured is Josh Baldwin try

Despite being the better side for large parts of the game, Illingworth’s bid to reach the semi-finals of the BARLA National Cup ended with a 16-18 defeat to Upton at Mason Green.

It took the home side just five minutes to grab the lead when Jack Bradbury’s astute grubber kick on the last tackle was swooped on by Luke Sutcliffe for the try. Kieran Nicholson’s conversion made it 6-0.

Pennine Premier Division side Upton levelled matters at the mid-point of the first half.

With Illingworth pressing, opposition second row forward Jack Arnold intercepted on his own line and raced the length of the field to touch down. Steve Beal added the conversion.

The home side capitalised on opposition indiscipline to work their way down the field and Josh Baldwin crashed over from close range.

Nicholson converted from the touchline to give his side a 12-6 advantage at the break.

The lead became 16-6 five minutes into the second half when Sutcliffe hung onto a wayward pass and fed Scott Allen, who forced his way over in the left hand corner.

Full back Andy Iveson cut the deficit as the hour mark passed, finishing off a cross field passing move wide on the left. Beal’s conversion made it 16-12.

Upton spurned a chance to take the lead moments later, the ball being spilled with the line beckoning.

However, Nick Welsh made amends from their next possession, cutting through the defensive line from 15 yards.

Beal’s conversion gave his side the lead for the first time in the game.

With full time approaching Illingworth had the opportunity to grab victory when Sutcliffe broke though in centre field. A tackle by the last defender was deemed high and brought him to ground.

Nicholson’s penalty shot drifted wide and he had a second opportunity to level the scores on full time from long range as Upton kicked the ball away at a play-the- ball.

Sadly for the home side, this too drifted wide and Illingworth’s valiant efforts fell just short.

Brighouse Rangers stayed on course for a third Fee Halifax Cup triumph in four years when they beat King Cross Park 28-0 in yesterday’s first semi-final.

The other last-four contest is between Illingworth, who they beat 26-22 in last year’s final at Old Brodleians, and Stainland Stags.