Garrod sparks Siddal revival

Siddal v Pilkington Recs
Shaun Garrod scores one of his two tries
Siddal v Pilkington Recs Shaun Garrod scores one of his two tries
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Siddal prevented a mini crisis becoming something worse when they fought back from 14-0 down to beat visitors Pilkington Recs 38-24 at Chevinedge yesterday.

The Conference champions had gone through the first half of their Premier Division campaign without dropping a point but then drew at Rochdale Mayfield and lost at West Hull.

Coach Gareth Greenwood admitted he would have settled for a draw with a depleted side yesterday and Siddal’s prospects of getting that looked remote when they trailed by 14 points a minute before half time.

However, stand off and skipper Shaun Garrod took it upon himself to improve the situation, crossing for solo tries just before and after the break as the Chevinedge started to turn things around.

The lowly visitors from St Helens were still in it at 20-20 just after the half hour mark but a Freddie Walker double helped Siddal move clear before the other winger, Ben West, scored a final try from distance.

A relieved Greenwood revealed that due to holidays and injuries he’d had just enough regular squad members to fill the first 13 places on his teamsheet, not all in their usual positions. Four replacements had been rustled up on Friday evening.

Siddal started promisingly on a sunny afternoon, playing on a good carpet of grass, but their attack stalled in sight of the try line in the first half and Greg Smith helped Recs into a healthy lead.

The talented stand off opened the scoring 15 metres to the right of the posts on eight minutes and then intercepted a Siddal pass five metres inside his own half, adding both conversions and a simple penalty for a 14-0 advantage after 21 minutes.

The visitors were adopting a risk-free strategy, happy to put the ball into touch, slow the game down and let Siddal make the mistakes.

Recs so nearly made it to the break with their line intact but Garrod weaved his way through the defence to score near the posts and centre Gav Stead converted to reduce the deficit to eight points.

Siddal switched to a more basic down-the-middle approach and Garrod, now at hooker, further ate into Recs’ lead with a show and go, circumnavigating the visitors’ defence for his second try on 43 minutes.

Stead converted but was unable to add the extras when Siddal hit the front via forward Ross White, who rolled out of a tackle to put the ball down on 51 minutes,

Stead crossed in the top corner to make it 20-14 on 57 minutes but Recs surprised with their attacking flair near the try line, slick passing enabling winger Jake Hodson to touch down. Smith added a fine conversion for 20-20.

Two tries in nine minutes from Walker, both converted by Stead, made it 32-20 on 72 minutes but the irrepressible Smith completed his hat-trick with a last-tackle try, only to miss the kick and leave his side more than a score behind.

West ran 65 metres for the final try, holding off a couple of pursuers, and Stead’s conversion which gave Siddal a flattering margin of victory was the game’s last action.

Siddal remain three points ahead of Thatto Heath at the top of the Premier and host Egremont Rangers next Saturday, when Greenwood hopes to have a handful of players back.