West Hull Youngsters Save the Day
A disappointing day in the National Conference for the four local teams in action on Saturday but a brilliant performance from West Hull's youngsters in the BARLA National Cup semi-final at Upton saved the day. With the first team in Challenge Cup action at Dewsbury, Wests travelled to West Yorkshire with just four players over 18 but came away with a 22-4 victory, setting the club up with a Final against fellow Premier League giants Thatto Heath Crusaders in a fortnight's time.
Skirlaugh were outgunned by a well drilled and very professional Pilkington Recs at Eastside with only a late Natty Slater converted try saving them from a whitewash.
The St Helen's-based side arrived unbeaten in three National Conference Division One games and, according to officials, with their strongest away squad for three years. However, for the first 15 minutes of the game they hardly broke out of their own half - strong defence, with Johnny Gay very much to the fore - kept Recs pinned down but Skirlaugh just couldn't turn possession into points.
Several scoring opportunities went begging though the visitors had been offering little until, in their very first sortee into Skirlaugh's half, a strong burst from classy loose-forward Jamie Smith caught the home guard asleep and he powered his way over. Kyran Knapper added the extras but the next quarter proved something of a war of attrition with neither side making clear-cut chances though Skirlaugh had a score chalked off after a Carl Puckering grubber evaded the Rec's defence only for an offside decision and a fine run from Tyler Pelham came to nothing when possession was lost. On the stroke of half-time Skirlaugh were harshly penalised for ball stealing and Knapper had no problems extending the lead to 8-0.
The second period couldn't have begun much worse for the home side. Slater was sin-binned for speaking out of turn and the resultant penalty had an immediate effect when Smith charged through an enormous gap close enough to the posts for Knapper to convert.
A series of penalties against Skirlaugh led to four more points for Knapper, who then put the result beyond doubt with a drop-goal to make it 19-0. The half-back was causing the home defence all kinds of problems and it was no surprise when he sold an outrageous dummy and went over for a six-pointer. Slater's late score and Carl Puckering's touchline conversion made no difference and they were simply beaten by a much better side on the day.
Along with the hard-working Gay, Chris Smith had a strong game up front and Matty Harling was a handful in the centre but Skirlaugh will need to do much better when Stanningley are the visitors next week.
Stanningley are already one-up against our local sides having seen off Myton Warriors 16-14 in Leeds, the Warriors once again returning from their travels with a narrow defeat. In Division Two Hull Dockers went down 38-18 at Crosfields while Beverley lost 44-28 at Clock Face Miners.