5th November 2018, 13:02 | ncl

NCL Division 2 | 2018 review

NCL Division 2 | 2018 review

By Mark Chestney

The National Conference League Division 2 season has come to an end once more, beginning in March and concluding in the Grand Finals on October 6th 2018.

Stanningley came up to Division 2 as runners up in Division 3, but had an outstanding season culminating in them finishing top of the table. They won the title by just a point over Dewsbury Moor Maroons.

Liam Copland was the star of the show for Stanningley, yielding over 220 points across his 20 appearances. Ben Shelby was their leading try scorer (15 tries) whilst Adam Benn produced 4 man of the match performances.

If Dewsbury Moor Maroons had turned their 20 all draw at Hull Dockers into a win, they would have been crowned Champions albeit via point difference. All in all, it was a great season for the Maroons, having been promoted into Division 2 last year.

Aiden Ineson was a prominent figure across the season scoring over 150 points, whilst George Croisdale, Archie Bruce and Jacob Flathers all played their parts in the success.

Crosfields will be disappointed to have finished in third place and not take the final promotion place having lost to Saddleworth in the play offs. Hayden James was in tremendous form during the season and collected no less then eleven man of the match awards and scoring twelve tries.Jack Reid played his part in adding 204 of the 672 points his side scored in the season from 10 tries and 82 goals. Nathan Taylor also deserves a mention for his 21 tries in 22 appearances as Luke Walker also weighed in with 13 tries.

Kristian Tyson had a tremendous season for Askam with a haul of 132 points from nine tries and 48 goals. Four wins was good form going into the playoffs having finished the season in fourth place.

It wasn’t, however, meant to be as Wigan St. Jude’s came and did a number abruptly ending Askam's season. Tyson also picked up three man of the match awards, but all credit to Russ Bolton, Sam Dowsett as well for their try scoring exploits.

Consistency was key for Wigan St. Jude’s throughout 2018, but they just couldn’t find that final push for promotion. They had one notable win at home to eventual champions, Stanningley, but lost out in the playoffs to Saddleworth Rangers.

Connor Parkinson had a tremendous season for Jude’s in scoring 23 tries, backed up by Gavin Rodden and Joseph Brady. Gary McMahon was also influential from his 17 appearances in scoring 7 tires and landing 15 goals.

Saddleworth Rangers had a great season, after winning their playoff final 33-16 against St. Judes. Rangers finished the season in 6th place, after losing their final home league game but winning away at Warrington the following week – a decent performance considering at the start of the season, following 7 straight losses they were considered relegation material.

Adam Jeffrey, Gareth Morgan and Ethan Langhorn led the way with tries, as Josh Bradbury was the target man for goals in landing 81.

Had East Leeds won their last 4 games they could well have had a say in the end of season playoffs, but as it was the ended up in mid-table. James Duckworth was the leading try scorer for Easts as he ran in 13 plus picked up a trio of man of the match awards.

Nathan Conroy had a limited season with the club turning out only 8 times but rattled up a century of points. Three tries and 44 goals wasn’t a bad contribution whilst Jack Norfolk also weighed in with 13 tries during the campaign.

West Bowling won Division 3 in 2017 so it was a season of consolidation as they finished in 8th a comfortable 6 points from the relegation zone. However, a 7-match losing run midway through the season didn’t help their cause, and not even 2 wins out of their last 3 games was enough to affect the playoffs.

It was another relatively poor season by Hull Dockers standards as they finished 5 points above the relegation places. Chris Kay stepped down as Head Coach, with Hull University Head Coach and GB Teachers Assistant Richard Squires taking over.

Former Sheffield Eagles hooker Craig Cook was inspiration in a mediocre season, running in 23 tries across 18 appearances. Dan Suddaby was on kicking duties landing 33 goals and adding 9 tries for a 102 points tally.

Drighlington will be playing Division 3 rugby next year after they finished in the final relegation place. Defeats in 6 of their last 7 games meant they ended 5 points adrift of Hull Dockers for the inevitable to happen.

Michael Sanderson hit 100 plus points with 50 goals for Drig as Tom Moorby led the way with 11 tries with Daniel Sanderson just one behind with 9 from their 424 points scored during the season.

Hunslet Warriors will also be playing in Division 3 next year. It was a struggle throughout the season as they lost a lot of experience with the likes of Caldon Bravo and Gary McLelland retiring, but players like Dave Norton coming to the fore.

They lost 5 games on the bounce on 2 occasions and getting into these ruts isn’t good for consistency. It led to back-to-back relegations for the Warriors, who will regroup for 2019 with the experience gained by their youth players from last season.

Leigh East finished bottom of the table and will fall into Division 3 having won only 3 of their 22 games.

Adam Holland tried to lead his side from the front in scoring 9 tries and 26 goals for an 88 points tally. Andrew Ball led the way with 3 man of the matches in a side which used 50 players – a true lack of continuity.