Rugby league: Glory in defeat for Elland

Elland 16 Thatto Heath 20

Elland came very close to causing a major Challenge Cup upset, the young home side looking the better team for much of the game at Greetland Community Centre.

Heath, top of the Premier Division and 29 places above Karl Fairbank's side in the Conference, looked home and dry when they hit back from a 6-4 deficit early in the second half to build a 20-6 lead.

However, Elland were far from finished and hit back strongly to leave the visitors from St Helens glad to hear the final whistle.

Elland's early defence was ferocious with Jack Fairbank and Sam Housley to the fore and the experienced Junaid Malik putting in a huge hit on the visiting captain to show Heath they had a game on their hands.

It was against the run of play that the free scoring Darren Woods touched down in the right corner on nine minutes, following quick ball handling from a scrum.

That was Heath's last score of the half as the home forwards began to dominate with prop James Fairbank outstanding in an 80 minute stint.

Captain and second rower Marc Shickell was as strong as an ox with three or four tacklers required to bring him down.

Oliver Fairbank kicked a penalty for holding down at the play the ball on 22 minutes.

This was followed by another two points following a high tackle on Ben Manning after the substitute hooker looked to make a break from the play the ball.

Elland nearly scored after great handling by Housley and James Fairbank released Malik in the left centre position, only for Malik's pass to go astray.

Turning round at 4-4, Elland got off to a great start with James Fairbank hauled down an inch short of line after being released by an inside ball from Malik.

The visitors had hands in at the play the ball and Oliver Faibank kicked the penalty for a 6-4 lead on 45 minutes.

The home team were undone by some ill discipline and switched off for a 10 minute spell in which the visitors scored three tries.

The first was by full back Shaun Quinn on 51 minutes following a kick through by the visitors' man of the match Keiron Maddocks. Quinn converted his own try for a 10-6 lead.

Elland turned the ball over and gave away back to back penalties, resulting in Adam Walsh crossing for an unconverted try on the left flank following a long cut out pass.

The prolific Woods was over again on 61 minutes on the right flank and Quinn added the touchline conversion to leave Elland up against it at 20-6 down.

However, the hosts regained their composure and when a big hit by Housley forced the ball out, Brad Pearson dummied his way over to take the score to 10-20.

Two minutes later Dean Avis went over following a kick through which Quinn failed to deal with. Avis picked up the loose ball and dived over to the left of the posts. Fairbank converted to narrow the gap to four points.

It was game on again but the home side could not crack the Heath defence, going close on several occasions.

It was an outstanding team effort from Elland and one which suggested a late promotion challenge in Division Two might not be out of the question.

Young fullback Fred Walker was outstanding again and Shickell was head and shoulders above any forward on the pitch.

SIDDAL'S home Challenge Cup tie with Eastmoor Dragons was postponed because of a frozen pitch and will now take place next Saturday.