A few weeks ago Siddal were fighting for their National Conference Premier Division lives. Now they are two wins away from a Grand Final appearance after a dramatic 11-10 victory over Wath Brow Hornets.
This play-off semi-final had a bit of everything, excellent defence, crisp attacking play, a couple of sin-bins, and the result in doubt until the final whistle. In fact, the game was seconds from going to extra time when Jake Hancock saw a drop goal attempt charged down. Siddal regained possession and quickly set up another attempt with scrum-half Christian Ackroyd christening a fine individual performance with the winning kick, resulting in jubilant scenes.
A close encounter started with Wath Brow Hornets, who had already beaten Siddal twice in the league, looking the more lively. Their pack led by the prompting of hooker Owen McCartney and loose forward Charlie Tomlinson set a platform for Dean Rooney and Cole Walker Taylor to use. The first try came nine minutes in when Walker Taylor chipped forward and Rooney won the race to reclaim the ball before sliding a further kick that looked like it would be dealt with by Siddal wing Courtney Allette only for Wath Brow's Greg Howland to get a boot to it first and chase through to score. Walker Taylor goaled.
The hosts dominated territory for much of the half with Siddal indebted to the clearing runs of fullback Oli Lewis and kicking from Jack and Ackroyd. Chances were few and far between for the visitors with Wath Brow looking controlled and composed. Siddal player-coach Gareth English was sin-binned for dissent after questioning the authority of referee Dewsbury referee Jenkinson after conceding a 35th-minute penalty Wath Brow spied their chance when Fran King and Walker Taylor combined to give Howland a running chance down the right and he skipped over for his 8th try of the season on the cusp of half-time to hand his side a 10-0 advantage.
Siddal attacked from the kick-off, winning possession which then brought a spell of dominance. They were unable to get over the line but their solid start to the new half continued when Wath Brow prop Callum Farrer was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on English. Siddal had their position again and after Rushworth was stopped on the line, English took matters into his own hands diving past Tomlinson for their first try after 49 minutes. Impressive centre Joe Martin goaled and it was 10-6.
The visitors continued to take the game to Wath Brow and it was the hosts that now couldn't get close enough to apply real pressure. Eventually, Siddal worked some space and a superb pass under pressure from Sam Walsh resulted in wing Dom Booth touching down in the corner. Martin couldn't goal and as the game moved into the last ten minutes it was 10-10. Both sides traded drop goal attempts with Walker Taylor and Rooney missing for the hosts while Ackroyd saw an effort drop under the posts and flashed another wide before the late, late drama and subsequent winner, sparked contrasting emotions and brought a thrilling play-off game, televised on OuRLeague to a close.
Elsewhere play-off finalists were decided in Divisions One and Three. In Division One Heworth dominated in a 34-0 defeat of Skirlaugh while Oulton Raiders visited Stanningley and won 28-12, while the Division Three decider will see Millom host Leigh East. Millom progressed at the expense of Beverley while East cheered a 36-10 win over Drighlington. In Division Two, Woolston Rovers have won through to the play-off final after a tense 20-18 win over Wigan St Judes. League campaigns came to a close in the Premier Division with Wigan St Pats ending a difficult season on a high with a 32-18 success against Kells, with that result also meaning that Thatto Heath take the final play-off spot and visit Rochdale Mayfield on Tuesday evening. Saddleworth won their outstanding fixture against Myton 30-20 in Division Two to set up a semi-final at Shaw Cross Sharks.
CONFIRMED FIXTURES TUES 19th SEPT
PREMIER DIVISION ELIMINATION PLAY-OFF
- Rochdale Mayfield v Thatto Heath Crusaders
SATURDAY 23rd SEPT
PREMIER DIVISION QUALIFYING SEMI-FINAL
- Hunslet ARLFC v West Hull
PREMIER DIVISION ELIMINATION PLAY-OFF
- Rochdale Mayfield v Siddal or Thatto Heath Crusaders
DIVISION ONE PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL
- Heworth v Oulton Raiders
DIVISION TWO ELIMINATION PLAY-OFF
- Shaw Cross Sharks v Saddleworth Rangers
DIVISION THREE PROMOTION PLAY-OFF FINAL
- Millom v Leigh East