Turner is Siddal hat-trick hero

Morpeth 55 Consett 7
Morpeth 55 Consett 7

Young centre Henry Turner scored a hat-trick of tries as Siddal beat visitors Normanton 28-10 in a game brought forward to Friday evening because of England’s World Cup game.

A much-improved display, after a couple of below-par performances in defeat, moved the Halifax side back into the top half of the National Conference League’s Premier Division table.

There was fierce defence from both sides early on with skipper Byron Smith and fellow prop George Ambler beginning with their usual gusto and well supported by the back row of Danny Williams, Tom Garratt and Dom Booth.

Siddal broke through after 15 minutes when stand off Jake Smith’s deft kick towards the flag was grasped by Josh Greenwood-MacDonald and he touched down despite the attentions of two defenders. Gareth Blackburn’s touchline kick was narrowly wide.

The lead was short lived. A wickedly spinning kick from Normanton’s lively stand off Connor Taylor was spilled by the home defence. From the resulting scrum, Knights moved the ball out to centre Adam Banwell, who ran powerfully to the line. Taylor added a great conversion from wide out to nose Normanton 6-4 ahead after 18 minutes.

There was more strong tackling over the next 10 minutes with Danny Williams making repeated big hits, along with Jack Georgiou and Danny Rushworth.

Normanton’s big pack were running well, with second rower Stuart Biscomb repeating his strong showing in the earlier encounter at Normanton earlier in the season, which Siddal won 22-14.

Siddal regained the lead on the half hour mark when scrum half Christian Ackroyd copied the earlier efforts of his half back partner Smith with a well judged kick to the flag. Sam Walsh stretched to palm the ball back for Turner to touch down. Blackburn’s successful conversion put Siddal 10-6 ahead.

Siddal were now playing with a confidence not seen since the victory at Wigan St Pats a month earlier.

Greenwood-MacDonald had a fine run down the line and his break was taken forward in style by Garratt. Billy Gaylor then forced a goal line drop out by Knights but the home side could not score again before half time.

Five minutes into the second period Turner bagged his second try when he found space from a scrum to shake off two Knights defenders to score. Blackburn’s conversion increased the lead to 16-6.

Normanton’s defence was now being stretched and after 50 minutes Sam Walsh looked to have scored in the corner, only for a linesman’s flag to indicate offside.

There was no denying Siddal shortly after when Ackroyd pounced on a loose Knights’ pass to break down the middle. After being held too long in the tackle, Turner scored from the next play in a determined arcing run to the line from 30 yards out to complete his hat-trick try. Another Blackburn conversion put Siddal 22-6 in front.

Knights tried to fight back, with Biscomb, Taylor and full back Connor Wilson prompting their colleagues.

They couldn’t find a way through the home defence with Byron Smith, Ambler, Georgiou and Williams standing firm in the tackle.

Blackburn was sin binned for holding down after 67 minutes and Knights took advantage of the extra man when Connor Wilson touched down to cut the gap to 12 points.

Siddal had the final say in the last minute. Cole Wilson made a trade mark break down the middle, which was taken on by Booth and Chris Brooke. Ackroyd then fed the returning Richard Lopag, who shook off two tacklers to force his way over. Blackburn was back on the field and added the extras.

Siddal now face trips to Wath Brow Hornet and then Rochdale Mayfield.

Siddal’s second string also won, Russ Holroyd’s young side beating York side New Earswick All Blacks 25-18 away.