Challenge Cup: Siddal win easily at Millom

Gareth Blackburn was Siddal's man of the match
Gareth Blackburn was Siddal's man of the match

Siddal produced another solid performance, built on defence, to win 26-0 on the long trip to Millom in the Coral Challenge Cup yesterday.

Millom, from lower down the National Conference League ladder than Siddal, came into the game on the back of an historic round one win against Red Star Belgrade and were boosted by a big crowd in Cumbria.

Both sides tackled ferociously in a lively opening with Siddal penning the Cumbrians in their own half.

Byron Smith, George Ambler and Danny Rushworth led from the front and were aided by the tireless Danny Williams, Ben Hinsley and Jack Georgiou.

Millom didn’t give an inch in the first 10 minutes and front rower Ethan Kelly and hooker Noah Robinson were also prominent.

Rushworth came close to a try after 14 minutes with a trademark scoot from a play the ball but in grounding the ball, the referee judged it was knocked on.

With chances for either side at a premium, Siddal snatched the vital first score after 19 minutes. Chris Brooke took play down the blind side and passed neatly to Josh Greenwood-MacDonald, who sped 40 yards down the touchline and switched back inside to find the supporting Gareth Blackburn, who touched down. Blackburn converted his own try for a 6-0 lead.

Brooke and half-back partner Christian Ackroyd kept Siddal on the attack with probing kicks as the visitors dominated the territorial play.

The returning Sean McCormack and Canaan Smithies were introduced to the game and a McCormack break down the middle came to nothing with the ball spilled as Siddal tried to force the play.

The lead was stretched after 33 minutes. There appeared to be no danger when Freddy Walker took the ball from a scrum, but despite the attention of three Millom defenders he managed to wriggle free from the tackle and sprint behind the posts. That allowed an easy conversion for Blackburn and a 12-0 half time lead.

Millom threw everything they had at Siddal at the start of the second half. Prompted by lively stand off Jonathan Hodgson, they had three successive sets in Siddal’s 25 yard line.

The visitors defended superbly with Sam Walsh, Henry Turner and Dom Booth to the fore.

The game breaking score came after 44 minutes. With Siddal penned in on their own line and Millom seeking another repeat set, Ackroyd bravely gathered the ball from behind the try line and sprinted past half way, before the scrambling defenders tackled him, but held on too long. From the resulting penalty, the ball was spread to Henry Turner who found a gap and dived over. Blackburn’s conversion attempt was just wide but Siddal were sitting pretty with a 16-0 lead.

Ackroyd, Walker and McCormack were all making ground and in defence skipper Smith was a rock, alongside Eddie Ainley and Rushworth.

Siddal thought they had scored again when Blackburn joined the line and fed a short ball to Turner, only for the linesman to harshly rule the pass forward.

Siddal put the game beyond the Cumbrians with further short range tries from Hinsley and Ambler, after 58 and 62 minutes, the final try being converted by Blackburn.

Millom kept going to the end and Siddal had to continue to defend for the full 80 minutes to maintain the clean sheet.

This was another promising performance from Siddal as they look ahead to the start of the league campaign in March. All 17 players performed well and tackled superbly with Blackburn voted man-of-the-match for the second game in a row.

Coaches Daz Phillips and Gareth English will hope for a home draw on Monday (6.0) when 13 community sides go into the hat along with the 11 Betfred League One sides.