Siddal produced a flat second half display and were beaten 26-18 at Kells in the National Conference League’s top flight on Saturday.
Hopes were high when they battled well against the slope and the wind in the opening 40 minutes and turned round drawing 14-14 but they were unable to sustain their effort.
The visitors felt harshly treated from the opening set, as Chris Brooke’s grubber kick on the last tackle was misjudged by the Kells full back. Paul Long picked up the loose ball and tried to feed Henry Turner, who appeared to be tackled from behind without the ball with no cover in place. The referee disagreed and then gave Kells a penalty at the end of the next set.
Kells had a platform from which loose forward Conner Hetherington managed to wriggle out of a tackle and touch down. Stand off Ross Gainford made the conversion and Kells were ahead 6-0 after three minutes.
The Cumbrians were playing the conditions well and keeping Siddal penned in their own half.
After 16 minutes, the home side moved the ball wide and prop Ross Ainley scored from close range. A great conversion from Gainford stretched the lead to 12-0 after 16 minutes.
Siddal started to battle their way back into the game and after 21 minutes a fine move involving Canaan Smithies, Brooke and Jake Smith saw Ben Hinsley in space and he touched down. Gareth Blackburn narrowly missed the kick but Siddal were finding some form.
Ten minutes later a strong run from Elliott Thompson was only stopped a metre from the try line, but hooker and man-of-the-match Sean McCormack dummied his way under the posts from acting half back. The deficit was reduced to two points by Blackburn’s conversion.
Siddal came under pressure when Kells forced repeat sets after 35 minutes and the visitors were forced to drop out twice.
The defence held out and as Kells tried to force one too many passes, Hinsley relieved the pressure with an interception that took play deep into the Kells half.
From the next play, Jake Smith’s well measured kick was caught on the full by Dominic Booth and he raced clear to score by the flag to put Siddal 14-12 up.
Just before half time the excellent Smithies was harshly sin binned after being hit with an elbow in the tackle. The referee overlooked the original offence and decided to penalise Smithies for his reaction. Gainford’s penalty made it 14-14 at half time.
Despite being a man down at the start of the second half, Siddal almost regained the lead in the opening minute. Lewis Hosty was again showing impressive form and he broke through the home defence but Siddal knocked on in front of the posts.
Kells responded well and began to dominate as they played the conditions well. Centre Jordan Herve touched down after 50 minutes and Hetherington scored his second try on the hour as the Cumbrians led by 22-14, with neither try being improved.
Booth reduced the deficit to 22-18 after 73 minutes when he squeezed over by the flag but Kells finished on top and Hetherington completed his hat-trick just before the final whistle.
Siddal will be hoping to perform for the whole 80 minutes at home to Wigan St Patricks on Saturday (2.30).