Brighouse Rangers kicked off their new 2018 Yorkshire Men’s League season with a fine 30-10 victory over Kippax Welfare at a sun drenched Russell Way in Saturday.
Facing a team with a good blend of youth and big, experienced and hardened forwards, they eventually won by a comfortable margin but the game was a lot closer than the score line suggested.
On the rapidly drying main pitch, Brighouse started brightly with hard running from Sam Moon and debutant Harry Johnstone giving the Kippax forwards plenty to think about.
Rangers took advantage of the wider field, finally using the qualities of dangerous winger Lewis Taylor, who racked up two tries in the first eight minutes.
He also had a third chalked off by the referee for a forward pass that appeared to be legitimate.
Karl Frankland unusually missed both goals from the touchline but at 8-0 Rangers looked like they might blow Kippax away.
Kippax has other ideas, though, and their experienced ball playing forwards started to trouble the Brighouse side, who were doing their best to help the opposition with dropped balls and indiscipline.
Coleman crashed over for a converted try for the visitors to make it 8-6 at the break.
After a stern talking-to by midfield general Jamie Bottomley, it looked like normal business had been resumed. Frankland anticipated a sublime Terry Moon off-load in heavy traffic and ghosted through to touch down unopposed. He added the east goal.
Kippax weren’t going to go away, though, and Wallis went over in the corner after the visiting forwards had hammered away at the hosts’ line and Rangers had compressed their defence to deal with the threat.
Brighouse half-back Drennan saw yellow but that was the end of the Kippax scoring as Rangers upped the ante in defence, crushing the visitors’ belief with some brutal gang tackles.
Taylor completed his hat-trick after Anton Ambler had confused the defence.
Esmond danced over from short range minutes later and Drennan, with fresh legs after his rest, got on the end of a 60 yard move after Esmond had powered through the middle from distance.
Men of the match, as voted for by opposition players, were the Kippax fullback and Esmond for Brighouse.
The win was costly for Brighouse with Esmond sustaining a broken hand early in the second half and Midgley a suspected broken ankle.
Special mention must go to Brighouse winger Taylor, who looks a real star in the making.