Warriors show their battling qualities to hold off Illingworth

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Whitehall Warriors (+23) 54

Illingworth 40

(Handicap Cup)

With a plus twenty-three start Whitehall Warriors progressed after holding their Division Two opponents to just a nine point-margin on the field.

A youthful Illingworth side opened the scoring in the first minute when Jack Bradbury and Jordan Ryder created an overlap for Andrew McElroy, unusually finding himself on the wing, to go over in the corner. Shaun Challoner’s touchline conversion made it 6-0 to the visitors.

Whitehall’s captain Alex Scargill steadied the ship and bottled up danger man Jack Bradbury.

Then half-back John Handscomb danced around the big Illingworth pack and went over for a great individual try which was converted.

On the last tackle Jamie Holroyd booted a high ball and followed it up, the ball bounced backward and straight into his hands for a second try to Whitehall. Holroyd kicked the goal to give the Warriors a 12-6 lead.

Whitehall were now buzzing and after good approach play by Mark Airey, Nat Greenwood and James Spivey, Holroyd kicked the ball through and Handscomb grounded it to claim his second try. An accurate kick from Holroyd and it was 18-6.

Bradbury cut the deficit to two points crashing over wide on the left following a strong run towards the posts from second row James Green.

On the half hour mark, Handscomb sprung into life and completed his hat-trick, Holroyd converting to make it 24-10 to Whitehall.

Two spectacular tries either side of half time got Illingworth back into the match.

The first on 37 minutes saw the centre Jordan Ryder take Steve Barber’s pass and race 70 metres to score under the posts.

A minute into the second half Bradbury went in from half way for his second. Challoner converted both to leave his side trailing by just two.

Two minutes later McElroy put his side ahead, stealing the ball in a tackle 10 metres from his own line and outpacing the defence to go in from long range. Challoner again converted.

Whitehall introduced veteran Dave Beaumont in an attempt to steady their side, however Illingworth’s strong start to the second half continued with Graham Dobson feeding Aaron Horner to cross on the right.

The conversion put the visitors 10 points ahead in the match but 14 away from winning on the handicap.

But Lee Nellist threw an outrageous dummy and walked over the line for the easiest of tries. Holroyd converted and Whitehall had stopped the rot.

Good settling runs from Mark Bolger and Paul Johnson took Whitehall to the Illingworth line and Paul Stead popped over a one pointer to make the score 31-34.

All Whitehall had to do now was run the clock down as they held a 20 point cushion with the handicap.

Illingworth threw everything at the Warriors but Ashley Caine, Dan Kelly and Steve Helliwell led the blockade.

Just after the hour mark the visitors scored the best try of the match when Bradbury and Dobson exchanged passes, the centre touching down for his hat-trick try.