John Mooney: West Hull v Thatto Heath Crusaders
WESTS SNATCH SECOND SPOT IN HARD-FOUGHT ENCOUNTER
West Hull leap-frogged Thatto Heath Crusaders to take second spot in the NCL Premier Division and a victory at Kells next week would cement that position with a visit to Hunslet Club Parkside in the play-offs as the reward. A victory at the unbeaten regular season champions would ensure an automatic final spot and a defeat a second bite of the cherry at home so the trip to Cumbria will be crucial.
The Crusaders came to North Road with real intent and though eventually beaten 20-10 in a bruising encounter last year's champions won't be giving up their title easily. Without Nathan Hill, Scott Partis and Oscar Ellerington, Wests were still able to field a strong line-up with the returning Zeus Silk starting at prop alongside Ryan Wilson. After early skirmishes, where tough tackling was the order of the day, it was the latter who was first on the scoreboard with a penalty for an offence at the ruck. The visitors were looking constantly dangerous and looked to have scored near the posts only for the final pass to be ruled forward. It didn't take them long to gain their reward when excellent link-up play by eighteen-year-old full-back Ben Heyes sent centre Corey Lee over and with Bobby Goulding converting the Crusaders just about deserved the lead though it was reduced on the stroke of half-time by another Wilson penalty.
Wests came out of the blocks for the second half firing on all cylinders and Scott Spaven found his way over on the left edge. Wilson converted and the green and golds led for the first time - but it was to be short-lived. A brilliant break from Heyes, one of the finds of the season, set up winger Niall Allen to squeeze in at the corner and with the scores level it was down to which side had the reserves of energy left on a very hot afternoon. Thankfully it was Wests who came up trumps as first Spaven went over again after sustained pressure then Jack Lazenby, who had been proving a handful all afternoon, scrambled over and with Wilson converting the second of them the home side had the breathing space to see them to a very hard-fought victory.
Myton Warriors, who have known their fate for a very long time, were beaten 42-12 at Siddal while in Division One Skirlaugh were beaten 31-12 at Oulton Raiders and are very unlikely to make the play-offs. Dockers went down 32-22 at Saddleworth and will almost certainly be staying in Division Two next season where they will play Division Three champions Beverley, who crushed Gateshead Storm 56-0 at the Potting Shed.