Blackburn’s late clincher

Gareth Blackburn scored a late winning try for Siddal
Gareth Blackburn scored a late winning try for Siddal

Siddal are one of eight teams on six points at the top of the National Conference League’s Premier Division table after a hard-fought and barely deserved 28-24 home win over Hull Dockers yesterday.

Gareth Greenwood’s side trailed by six points with 10 minutes left but a Sean McCormack try, converted by Gareth Blackburn, hauled them level and fullback Blackburn then reached out to plant the ball on the try line and snatch victory on 79 minutes.

The Chevinedge men, lacking Jaymes Chapman, Emmerson Newburn, Scott Caley and Hamish Barnes, played in fits and starts against a Dockers side crushed 52-0 at home by Wigan St Patrick’s seven days earlier and still looking for a first point of the season.

It looked all too easy for the home side when they charged into a 12-0 lead after 13 minutes.

Aussie Travis Fiechtner’s great off-load in the tackle sent Ross White - switched from the pack to centre - away over the half-way line for the opening score and Shaun Garrod showed plenty of pace to add a second try from half-back partner Chris Brook’s pass. Blackburn added two easy conversions.

The home side switched off and Dockers, who had beaten Siddal at home in the Challenge Cup before going out to Halifax, seized the initiative for the remainder of the half.

With rangy stand off Chris Stephenson calling the shots, they swept 18-12 up with tries on 16, 26 and 30 minutes.

Stephenson got the first, dummying his way over after Siddal winger Dominic Horn’s costly knock-on. He then chipped over the home defence on the last tackle and fullback Robbie Smith hacked ahead and touched down.

Alarm bells really started to ring for Greenwood’s men when Stephenson sent in second rower Andy Taylor 30 metres to the left of the posts, the number six adding all three conversions.

Stephenson put a penalty wide at the end of the half and Siddal were happy to retire to the sanctuary of the changing rooms.

A dressing down from Greenwood appeared to have the desired effect as Siddal regained their focus and drew level four minutes after the break.

Siddal’s kicks on the last tackle hadn’t been great in the first half but Garrod’s high effort was perfect for centre Richard Lopag to chase, catch and put the ball down for a converted try.

Garrod then performed heroics at the other end, preventing scrum half Craig Shelton from grounding the ball over the try line.

Siddal lost hooker Craig Sanderson to the sin-bin - the culmination of a number of penalties conceded by the hosts - and Dockers seized their chance to regain the lead,

Taylor was again the scorer, from a short pass on 62 minutes, and Stephenson’s kick meant Siddal had it all to do.

McCormack weaved his way through to touch down at the side of the posts, Blackburn’s kick levelling matters, but Siddal continued to live dangerously with the visitors’ Mike Ayers adjudged held up on his back over the try line.

A drop goal attempt from Brook with two minutes left held up in the wind but Smith fatally dropped the ball and shortly after his opposite number Blackburn took advantage.

Calderdale’s other two Conference clubs, Ovenden and Elland, had differing fortunes in home Division Two matches.

Ovenden continued their promising start to the summer campaign with a fourth win in five outings, beating Leigh East 44-18.

However, Elland still only have one win on the board after a 30-12 defeat to Pilkington Recs.