Legendary club Sharlston Rovers, producers of the famous Fox brothers of rugby league fame, were put to the sword in a comprehensive 34-8 home victory for Brighouse Rangers on Saturday.
The hosts scored seven tries and crossed the line on four more occasions but last-ditch defence prevented further tries in the Yorkshire Men’s League fixture.
Rangers went 6-0 up in the fifth minute. Andrew Esmond broke down the left and a flying Lewis Taylor took an inside ball to outstrip the opposition for pace. Karl Frankland converted.
Sharlston attempted to hit back, their experienced first receiver spreading clever passes to eager runners and the loose forward catching the eye, but Rangers’ defence was awesome.
Some Rangers’ indiscipline, however, gave Sharlston good field position and they scored in the 20th minute, although the hosts claimed the ball wasn’t grounded.
Brighouse upped the pace with forwards Cameron Duffy, Buckley, and the Bailey twins to the fore, and the visitors started to wilt.
Rangers extended the lead when powerful centre Jordan Sild hit a well-timed Frankland ball to pierce the line from 30 yards out, galloping to the posts to take Rangers into a 12-4 lead.
Sild crashed through from close range to make it 18-4 and Rangers, sensing capitulation, turned the screw.
Jamie Barraclough had a try chalked off, Lee Buckley having burst through and delivered a peach of a pass to the supporting skipper. Then the ever-improving Harry Johnstone was
held up over the line as Sharlston clung on for their lives.
The visitors eventually cracked when the ball was spread to the right, fullback Birts giving a fine ball to wing Taylor who scored his second try just before half time, unconverted, giving Rangers a 22-4 lead.
Sharlston, encouraged by their dogged defence, emerged from the break with renewed vigour and were rewarded with a try from their huge prop. Rangers fullback Birts had no chance of stopping a man twice his size on the line in the 50th minute, but that was the visitors’ last scoring opportunity.
Nicky Barraclough, Terry Moon, and Ben Wrightson gave Rangers renewed zest off the bench.
Sharlston struggled to get down into Rangers’ territory, due to stout defence in the Brighouse middle with Gav Midgley outstanding, but Rangers lost influential hooker Will Clerehugh through injury.
Excellent kick return running from Tom Oldroyd and Lucas Birts, both impeccable at the back, negated any territorial gain, and halfbacks Frankland and Barraclough started to work their magic again.
Sild was denied a try on the hour with the referee’s view obscured but the big centre wasn’t to be denied his hat-trick, rumbling over on the left edge with Rangers having numbers to spare on the outside.
Esmond was denied soon after, having the ball stripped in the process of touching down, but minutes later crisp distribution gave winger Andy Collins a chance, and despite the attention of three cover defenders he scored in the left corner.
More rapid-fire wide balls outstripped Sharlston’s other flank, fullback and man of the match Birts sprinting over the whitewash untouched for Rangers’ final try.
None of the tries were converted, all scored out wide, and a blustery wind making conditions difficult for Frankland.
Next week, Rangers visit Oulton Raiders and coach Glenn Barraclough will be hoping for an 80-minute performance to maintain pressure on the other front runners, Elland and Hunslet Parkside.