Pace and power earns Brighouse a place in final at Illy’s expense

Brighouse 24

Illingworth 4

(Fee Cup semi-final)

Brighouse’s greater strength and pace proved the difference as they progressed to the final with a comfortable victory.

Rangers opened the better and in an ominous portent for the visitors dominated the early possession and field position.

A good mid-field break by Illingworth second row forward Chris Keoghan relieved pressure and his side could have gone ahead had alert full back Mark Horne not defused Graham Dobson’s high kick.

The visitors, though, were not to be denied and went ahead against the run of play on 11 minutes. Second row forward Ross Holmes broke the defensive line 25 metres out and showed great strength to break through a number of would-be tacklers to touch down.

Brighouse hit back on 21 minutes when impressive second rower Andy Seager made 40 metres on a weaving run to set up the position for his side to go ahead with a try from Alex Muff converted by Neil Walton.

Shaun Challoner almost put Illingworth in a position to go back in front, his astute kick causing problems among the defence before the ball was grounded by Horne for a goal line drop out.

The home side increased their lead to eight points on the half hour with a controversial Horne try converted by Walton, the visitors’ claims for a knock on in the preceding movement being waved away by the referee.

By the break it was 18-4 as stand off Ross Young went over from close range for a converted try.

In heavy conditions the second half increasingly became a battle among the forwards as handling errors negated attacking efforts.

Tom Ashcroft, Ash Ainley and Joe Crossland were to the fore for Illingworth, but strong defence from Wayne Jowett, Lee Buckley, Gav Midgley and veteran Craig Young ensured Rangers remained dominant.

Brighouse scored the only points of the second half on the hour. They capitalised on their opponents’ indiscipline, a series of penalties resulting in them crossing under the posts for a converted try from Walton.

Illingworth’s chances of a comeback were disrupted by injuries as Steve Oakes, Crossland, Josh Baldwin, Aaron Horner and Lee Brooks all had to leave the field at various stages.

Kieran Nicholson had their best effort of the half, his run to the line being halted by a foot in touch.