John Mooney: West Hull National Cup Heroes!
On a scorching afternoon at Featherstone Rovers Ground, West Hull claimed the BARLA National Cup with a hard-fought 31-12 victory over Haydock from the North West Counties League. A large and extremely vociferous crowd added to an absorbing Final, which in the first half looked something of a walk in the park for Wests, but which in the second period, especially the opening twenty minutes proved to be anything but.
After bombarding Haydock's line for the opening fifteen minutes, it was the smallest of West Hull's players, full-back Nathan Hill, who opened the scoring after a smart Scott Partis pass, Hill going over with three Haydock players hanging on to him. Wests then had a penalty in front of the posts for holding down and skipper Ryan Steen followed a flowing movement by powering over, then the introduction of Bobby Tyson-Wilson paid immediate dividends when, with his first touch of the ball, he stormed to the opposition line before releasing Louis Crowther to go over unopposed. Partis, who had been involved in most of the Green and Gold's good work, left his kicking boots at home as he failed with all three conversions and though Wests had looked comfortable throughout a 12-0 half-time lead left the door slightly ajar for the Lancastrians, who had defended heroically throughout the period to keep the scoreline respectable.
Steen and Partis failed to return for the second period and Haydock sniffed a chance when, after Wests fluffed a clear scoring opportunity, they their way to the other end and opened their account through David Frodsham. With the conversion slotted over it was game on and now it was Haydock doing all the attacking with Connor Smith seeming able to offload at will. They were rewarded when winger Danny Davies went over in the corner and the touchline conversion took the scores to level. Both sides were wilting in the extreme conditions but a tremendous Dean Thompson effort saw Ian Kerman race for the line to restore order in West's camp. Ryan Wilson took over the goal-kicking duties and duly converted and now Wests' greater experience on the big stage began to tell. Tyson-Wilson's strength was too much for a Haydock defence that was now on its last legs, taking them to a 12-point margin, then Scott Spaven slotted a field-goal to put his team beyond recall. Josh Nicklin's final effort finished off the opposition with Wilson once again converting from the touchline.
Huge credit to both sides, and the travelling fans, for an entertaining match played in very tough conditions. It's very difficult to single anyone out as it was a superb team effort from 1-17 though the contribution of veteran prop-forward Lee Cator can't be underestimated under very difficult circumstances and man of the match Callum Windley produced a superb 80-minute stint.