Calderdale’s amateur flag bearers Siddal again did themselves proud in the Challenge Cup when losing by only 30-14 against Halifax’s Championship rivals Keighley at Huddersfield YMCA today.
Gareth Greenwood’s side scored first and last through the outstanding Shaun Garrod and had the temerity to lead Paul March’s men by 8-6 approaching half time.
Four converted tries in 30 minutes put the game out of the Chevinedge men’s reach but Siddal were defiant to the last, Garrod taking his team’s points tally into double figures in the final seconds.
Greenwood described it as “a fair old effort” and said his side, given 30 points start on the bookies’ handicap, had been fired up by a Youtube video in which he claimed Keighley had been dismissive of his side’s chances.
The big, flat and dry pitch at Laund Hill should have suited the professionals but Siddal, with Garrod and Chris Brooke calling the shots and loose forward Danny Williams leading a whole-hearted defensive effort, were never dominated.
The underdogs, who had beaten Doncaster and run Swinton close in the past in this competition, kept errors to a minimum in front of a crowd approaching 500.
They held up Keighley centre Danny Lawton over their own try line early on before hitting back strongly on the back of a penalty for ball stealing awarded by referee Jamie Bloem.
Williams was halted a yard short but soon after Garrod linked up cleverly with winger Emerson Newburn on the short side and took a return pass to race over from 20 metres, Gareth Blackburn’s kick making it 6-0 after 12 minutes.
Keighley were on terms six minutes later, prop Lewis Reed going in at the side of the posts and scrum half Scott Leatherbarrow converting.
Siddal had a couple of narrow escapes with their line seemingly exposed, a Keighley pass being ruled forward and then centre Daley Williams knocking on from a kick on the last tackle.
Keighley fullback Jesse Sheriffe and winger Gavin Duffy were vulnerable under the high kick and Danny Williams almost made them pay, being halted just short.
A Blackburn penalty edged Siddal 8-6 in front on 38 minutes but with the Siddal fans wondering what had happened to the half time hooter, half-back Danny Jones reached out for the line to give Keighley the lead. Leatherbarrow’s goal made it 8-12 at the interval.
Siddal kept up the good work at the start of the second half, forcing Keighley to drop out from under their posts twice in quick succession.
Replacement Sean Hesketh - like Jones an ex-Fax player - was the first Keighley forward to make real inroads down the middle and he got his hands back on the ball to extend his side’s lead with a try on 48 minutes.
Leatherbarrow notched a try double in the 54th and 68th minutes, adding both goals to move Keighley out into a 30-8 lead.
However, it was by no means one-way traffic and Siddal refused to buckle, even when fullback Scott Caley was yellow carded for a high tackle on 72 minutes.
They had the final say from a penalty, Garrod weaving his way past two defenders to touch down to the left of the posts. Blackburn converted.
Siddal: S,Caley, G.Blackburn, S,Hope, R.Lopag, E.Newburn, S.Garrod, C.Brooke, R.White, C.Sanderson, M.Boothroyd, D.Patrice, J.Chapman, D.Williams. Reps: G.Greenwood, J.Dennis, L.Green, L.Garnett.
Keighley: Jesse Sheriffe, R.Barnett, D.Williams, D.Lawton, G.Duffy, D.Jones, S.Leatherbarrow, S.Law, J.Feather, L.Reed, B.Sagar, J,Shepherd, B.Rawlins. Reps: S.Hesketh, Jode Sheriffe, J.Chandler, J.Parkinson.