Relieved Toronto Wolfpack coach Paul Rowley paid Siddal the ultimate compliment after his side beat the top amateurs 14-6 in the third round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup yesterday.
Rowley, whose high-profile newcomers had to dig deep to overturn a 6-4 deficit entering the final quarter at soggy Chevinedge, said Gareth Greenwood’s men would not be out of place playing paid opposition on a regular basis.
“It was a great leveller playing on a field at the top of the hill in those conditions but I don’t want to disrespect Siddal because I feel they could do well in League One against the professionals,” he said.
“We needed to be patient and belt them in defence from numbers one to 18 but they were resolute and equally as tough.”
The Halifax village was log jammed with traffic as a crowd of just over 1,000 arrived to see a typically unyielding, uncompromising display from the National Conference League champions.
The big-spending Canadians, who are tipped to breeze through to the second tier of the pro game this summer, knew what to expect and were not disappointed.
Rowley’s men, after months of preparation, had the more fluent attack and got to the try line on a handful of occasions in the opening 30 minutes, only to be driven back.
Siddal, with their supporters roaring approval at their gritty efforts, then had the temerity to take the lead with winger Gareth Blackburn’s straight 25 metre penalty in blustery conditions.
The amateurs were desperate to get through to the interval with a lead but didn’t quite make it, a knock on appearing to go unnoticed prior to USA international Ryan Burroughs’ touch down on 37 minutes.
In driving rain, the arm wrestle continued with not one break of note through the entire game.
A Blackburn penalty was blown back from the posts shortly before Siddal regained the lead approaching the hour mark.
Danger man Shaun Garrod was well shackled by Toronto, but the stand off’s last-tackle grubber kick undid the visitors. When full back Quentin Laulu Togagae failed to knock the ball dead, winger Ben West pounced for an unconverted try.
Having failed to crack Siddal down the middle, Toronto eventually created enough space out wide to force their way over twice in the closing 15 minutes through Greg Worthington and Adam Sidlow. Craig Hall converted Sidlow’s effort.
Toronto’s powerful Tongan forward Fuifui Moimoi was red carded late on for a high tackle, a decision Rowley felt was harsh.
Greenwood admitted that after West’s try he had briefly thought that an upset might be on the cards.
“I’ve got to be happy with that performance,” he said.
“For a moment I thought we had a chance. It was a massive effort from my players.”