Siddal bounced back from the previous week’s gut wrenching National Conference League defeat to a last minute score at Leigh Miners with a brilliant all round team performance at Premier rivals East Hull in the Challenge Cup.
The Chevinedge side will be in Wednesday evening’s third round draw and perhaps hoping for another crack at a Championship side.
Easts coaches Danny Washbrook of Hull FC and Craig Cook, who is currently interesting Halifax RLFC, have built their side round a big pack which, as always, was superbly led by giant prop Lee Brown who put in another 80 minute stint.
However, Siddal’s pack more than matched their counterparts with a great defensive effort led superbly by Danny Williams, Ross White and hooker Craig Sanderson. That enabled the visitors to capitalise when the Easts’ forwards tired in the latter part of both halves.
The home side who took the lead after five minutes. Siddal felt the referee was wrong to hand Easts another set of six after a last tackle kick deflected off a Siddal defender. On the back of that decision half-back Carl Puckering reached over and touched down in spite of Siddal fullback Scott Caley’s desperate attempt to hold him up. Puckering added an easy goal for a 6-0 lead.
In the following 10 minutes Easts’ kicking game pinning Siddal in their own half but a huge Williams ‘hit’ on the young home fullback appeared to galvanise Siddal. Within minutes they had drawn level following a Chris Brook half break, some fine handling by Richard Lopag and Nick Smith paved the way for Brook to give a scoring pass to the supporting Sanderson, who scurried in under the posts. Gareth Blackburn’s simple kick made it 6-6.
Easts regained the lead on 25 minutes courtesy of an easy Puckering penalty for holding down by Jaymes Chapman.
But it was clear the Easts were tiring and Siddal were looking more and more threatening. On the half hour mark, scrum half Shaun Garrod attacked the Easts defensive line and threw a brilliant inside pass to the supporting Richard Casanove, who wasn’t going to be stopped and scored under the posts. Blackburn converted to give Siddal the lead for the first time at 12-8.
Two minutes later Siddal scored again. A great 40-20 kick from Brook set up the position and from the scrum a set piece move saw Garrod feed Smith, who sent winger Blackburn in for an unconverted try at the corner. That made it 16-8 to the visitors at half time.
Coach Gareth Greenwood demanded a fast and disciplined start to the second half but for the second week running the reverse occurred.
Conceding an early penalty and then knocking on in their first set meant Siddal came under immediate pressure and Easts capitalised when veteran Liam Reid scored close to the posts. Puckering converted again and the tie was back in the melting pot at 16-14.
Siddal, though, were showing the more attacking threat as the heavy pitch and that great defensive stint began to wear down their opponents. Props Liam Green and Luke Garnett were making great yardage and young forwards White and Sam Graham took the game to their older and bigger opponents.
On 50 minutes Siddal increased their lead as Stephen Hope dropped onto a great kick to the far right corner of the Easts in goal area from Brook. Blackburn’s goal attempt just drifted wide but the lead was six points and that was pushed out to 10 on the hour mark.
Garrod ran across the Easts line, teasing them with dummy drop offs and creating enough uncertainty to allow Gareth Greenwood to feed Blackburn for his second try wide out on the left. The conversion was missed, leaving Siddal 24-14 ahead.
Entering the last phase of the game Siddal appeared to be able to defend Easts increasingly desperate attempts to get back in the game, most of which were from short last tackle chips.
Siddal had Easts pinned under their own posts and had produced a great defensive set when they were harshly penalised for offside on tackle five. That lifted the stranglehold and Easts went downfield and got back into the tie when Puckering produced a clever reverse last tackle kick and a static Siddal defence stood and watched the Easts loose forward collect and score under the posts. Puckering goaled to make it 20-24 with 10 minutes left.
Siddal were not going to let this one slip. Richard Lopag made a great break and put his winger Hope away down the right wing. Hope drew the fullback but his attempt to produce the scoring inside pass to Lopag was thwarted by the Easts fullback’s fingertips.
However, Easts were soon penalised for offside. Blackburn added the two points with four minutes left and when persistent offender Reid was finally penalised Blackburn’s boot sealed a great win for Siddal.