Vandals go top with fine win
Halifax Vandals took a major step towards promotion in Yorkshire Three with another hard working, rugged performance in an 18-9 win at Northallerton.
Facing a side who were unbeaten at home and making a late push for promotion, Vandals produced a disciplined display to take four important points.
With Knottingley’s late season collapse continuing, the Warley men sit two points clear at the top with four games remaining.
The hugely impressive Vandals pack again laid the foundations for the victory, dominating a significantly larger Northallerton side in the scrum and line out.
It was, however, a slightly more expansive approach from the Vandals this week with Gallagher pulling the strings impressively for Jamie Bloem and Andy Binns to make several telling breaks in mid field.
The first 20 minutes belonged to Northallerton with their big forwards running hard and dominating in the ruck.
The Vandals line was under severe pressure but there was no sense of panic. The defensive line was resolute and time after time Northallerton runners were repelled and driven backwards.
Twice the hosts were held just short of the try line and on the latter occasion the ball was brilliantly stolen by Carrington and cleared to relieve pressure.
It was the Vandals turn to ask the questions and they did so to great effect. Matt Maeer produced his best performance of the season and drove strongly into the heart of the Northallerton pack, Burnside, Jowett and Richardson supported ferociously and Sutcliffe took advantage of the space created to score a brilliant try converted by Crowther.
Northallerton came storming back and Vandals conceded two penalties in front of their own posts within five minutes. Both were converted to close the gap to one point.
With half time approaching Jordan Bloem pulled off a superb try saving tackle and excellent counter attacking and support play led to a Vandals penalty well kicked by Crowther to establish a 10-6 lead.
Play continued in highly combative style and Northallerton pressure led to another successful penalty.
The Vandals forwards began to exert control, Sim and Richardson ruled in the lineouts and Hamer and Maeer kept things moving forward with powerful, line breaking runs.
Northallerton were starved of possession and began to run out of steam.
The defining moment came with 10 minutes remaining. Harris was impressive in support and Sutcliffe linked brilliantly with his back line who produced a wonderful flowing movement to send Tommy Crowther in at the corner for an unconverted try.
There was only one team in it now and Jimmy Crowther made the game safe with a penalty in the last minute.
Elated player/coach Jamie Bloem could not hide his delight.
“The Northallerton captain came up to me at the end of the game and said it was the first time in many years that he could remember Northallerton being dominated in the forwards.
“He couldn’t believe how fit we looked and how unbelievably hard we are to break down. Make no mistake, we have loads that we need to work on, but we are so nearly there.”