Brighouse Rangers won 46-22 away to Oulton Raiders on Saturday, racking up eight tries in a game played in bright sunshine and torrential showers.
They are second in the Yorkshire Men’s League Division One table, behind Elland, after making it three wins out of four.
Rangers established an 18-0 lead in steady fashion. Ben Waud crossed first, running across the defensive line before finding a hole to score, Karl Frankland converting.
Oulton were then reduced to 12 men, their hooker seemingly the angriest man in the world, unloading a flurry of punches after trivial provocation.
On a very narrow field, it gave the Rangers little advantage, but Alan Carr spotted a gap to race through from 50 yards out, outstripping the fullback with blistering pace to touch down near the sticks. Again Frankland converted.
Sam Hardcastle, unstoppable all game, was next to score, blasting through from 10 yards, and almost forgetting to put the ball down in the narrow in-goal area. Frankland’s goal made it 18-0.
Rangers were making some mistakes but big defence from Lee Buckley, Gavin Midgley, Matty Bailey and human brick wall Ronnie Bailey gave the hosts very little opportunity to get close to scoring.
With the luxury of a comfortable lead, coach Glenn Barraclough gave game time to some of the lads on the bench, which led to a breakdown in some of Rangers’ defensive fluency. Oulton piggybacked up the field with a penalty and scored a try near the posts, converted, minutes before half time to get some reward for all their endeavour.
This stung Rangers into action. Rapid ball movement to the Rangers’ left found fullback Frankland at pace and he scythed through. Finding himself in a cul-de-sac, with the agility of Fred Astaire he avoided the tackle before delivering a peach of an off-load to a supporting Alan Carr on the inside for a converted try, making the score 24-6 to the visitors at the break.
Oulton were quickly out of the traps in the second half, scoring in the right corner. A player driven over the sideline off-loaded a speculator of a pass which was snapped up by a supporting player to cross. The conversion failed but Oulton were back in with a sniff at 24-10.
That spark of a possible comeback was soon extinguished. Firstly, hooker Will Clerehugh burrowed in from dummy half for an unconverted try, then Andy Esmond bullied his way over to make it 34-10.
Soon after, the impressive Frankland changed the direction of attack, wrong footing the Oulton defenders, and efficient ball transfer gave winger Lewis Taylor the space to cross on the right edge, Rangers extending the lead to 40-10 with quarter of an hour to play.
Plucky Oulton didn’t yield, though maybe Rangers were a little guilty of taking their foot off the gas, and the home side scored again, making it 40-16.
Rangers again struck back. A kick from an Oulton side desperate to escape their own territory after a savage defensive set from Rangers was collected by Doug Heseltine, fresh from a union stint, and he evaded a couple of tired tacklers to sprint to the line from 40 yards out, gallantly chased by Oulton’s prop.
The result wasn’t in doubt, and maybe this was in the heads of the Rangers’ markers on their line when Oulton’s dummy half scored the simplest of tries, picking up and putting the ball down without a finger laid on him. The try was converted.
Rangers’ host another of the Division One front runners, Hunslet Parkside, on Saturday. Hunslet were demolished by leaders Elland on Saturday.