National Conference: Siddal have edge in fluctuating derby

George Ambler came up with Siddal's winning score
George Ambler came up with Siddal's winning score

Siddal bagged two vital Premier Division points when they overcame local rivals Underbank Rangers 22-18 in a contest that saw the lead change hands several times.

The sides tore into one another in the opening exchanges at Chevinedge. Byron Smith, George Ambler and Danny Rushworth were prominent for Siddal and the visitors were well served by Andy Boothroyd, Will Broadbent-Allen and Ashley Webb.

The referee penalised Siddal for a high shot after 11 minutes and Underbank’s impressive scrum half Richard Pogson made no mistake with the penalty to put his team ahead.

Siddal hit back after 15 minutes when a Freddy Walker break created the space for Sean McCormack to send Rushworth over the line. Gareth Blackburn’s conversion put Siddal in front by 6-2.

The tackling intensified as the first half progressed. Williams was immense in Siddal’s defence and was supported by his second row colleague Ben Hinsley.

Underbank refused to back down and their confidence, after winning five of their previous six games, was demonstrated after 27 minutes when they regained the lead.

Replacement hooker Danny Hirst’s deft kick was gathered over the line by Alex Chatterton and the try was improved by Pogson to make it 6-8.

The tit-for-tat nature of the contest was again on show six minutes later. Player coach Gareth English kicked deep into the corner and the ball was pounced on by Ben West, who touched down despite the attention of two Underbank defenders. Siddal retained their 10-8 lead until the half-time break.

Siddal were on top for the first 10 minutes of the second half. Dom Booth, Eddie Ainley and Zac Brennan were all showing well, but Siddal couldn’t breach a determined Underbank defence.

The visitors then moved play up field, well prompted by Pogson and his half back partner Blake Murray, and a short ball from Murray enabled Webb to burst through and go to the line from 30 yards. That put the visitors 12-10 in front after 53 minutes.

The home side again hit back after 64 minutes. Sam Walsh, Christian Ackroyd and Henry Turner were coming into the game and a McCormack kick was pounced on by Booth by the side of the posts for another try for Siddal. Lewis Hosty took over the kicking duties and his conversion put Siddal 16-12 ahead.

The visitors from Huddersfield wouldn’t lie down and full back Owen Restall levelled the scores at 16-16 after 69 minutes, when he touched down by the corner flag. Pogson’s conversion attempt hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Siddal’s re-start sailed straight into touch and Pogson was on target with the resulting penalty from the halfway line as Underbank took an 18-16 lead.

The home side were staring down the barrel of a fourth successive defeat but with four minutes left George Ambler forced his way over and Gareth Blackburn’s conversion completed the scoring.

This was a vital win for Siddal, who have played much better on occasions this season but lost.

Their determination saw them home and they will hope victory provides a springboard for the second half of the campaign.

Siddal have 10 points from 11 games and remain eighth in the table. They travel to 10th-placed Thornhill Trojans next Saturday.