Twelve-man Ovenden into next round of Challenge Cup

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Jake Connor’s Ovenden came from behind to beat Woolston 22-20 at Four Fields and move into the next round of the Challenge Cup.

And the Halifax side did it the hard way, playing almost half the game with 12 men after the sending off of playmaker Anthony Irvine five minutes into the second half.

The visitors from the National Conference had taken the early lead, centre Christian Taylor touching down for an early 4-0 lead.

And that deficit widened when back to back penalties paved the way for back rower Daniel Fearnley to touch down, Theo Holt’s conversion pushing the score out to 10-0 with half an hour on the clock.

A Holt penalty then made it 12-0 before Ovenden - who had already seen winger Callum Pilling called back for a forward pass - got themselves on the scoreboard when forwards Macauley Higgins and Nick Cassell set up veteran speedster Graham Charlesworth to score.

Trailing 12-4 at the break, the home side’s afternoon seemed to be going from bad to worse when Irving - playing at hooker on his first start for almost five years - was red carded after a scuffle erupted on the Woolston try line.

But a short ball from Sean Dyson put Josh McAdam over, with Dyson’s conversion cutting the gap to 12-10.

And when Ovenden laid on back to back scores either side of the 60 minute mark, Nathan Brown scoring from a Luke O’Meara assist and Higgins storming upfield from the restart before sending a flying Charlesworth racing clear from deep inside his own half, Dyson’s conversion put Connor’s team 20-12 up.

Dyson then added a penalty to make it 22-12, Connor intervening from the sideline as his players prepared to run the ball.

That decision proved crucial, with Woolston’s numerical advantage telling in the closing stages as Nick Braide and Matthew Taylor touched down late on.

Holt converted the first try, but could not add the extras to Taylor’s last-play score that would have taken the match into golden point extra time.