HANGING HEATON remain a point clear at the top of the Winter Pennine League Division Two following an 8-8 draw away at local rivals Ossett Trinity Tigers.
It was first against second in the division and both teams knew a win would go a long way to deciding the outcome of their winter campaigns.
The visitors got off to an electric start and bullied the Tigers pack in the opening exchanges. But, against the run of play, Ossett took the lead thanks to an eighth-minute penalty.
But Heaton quickly levelled the scores five minutes later with a penalty of their own.
In a heated contest a fight broke out midway through the first period which signified the importance of the match to both sets of players, and after the referee brandished two yellow cards Heaton finally went over for a try, albeit unconverted, courtesy of former Tiger Adam Johnson, who bulldozed his way to the line despite the attention of three tacklers.
But the away side were left frustrated when former player Dave Berry went over for a try in the corner.
Heaton’s JJ Price did his best to squeeze Berry into touch, but his efforts were in vain. The conversion, however, was missed and the sides couldn’t be separated at half-time.
Level at 6-6 neither team could break away from their opponents in the second period in what increasingly became one of the closest battles of the season.
There were some big hits made by both sides, which entertained the crowd, but scoring opportunities proved hard to come by.
On 50 minutes Heaton were awarded a penalty, and with it a rare scoring opportunity, but the kick from 35 metres out hit the cross bar and was fielded by Adam Firth.
Tigers were walking a bit of a tight rope midway through the second period when Callum Machin was sin-binned for foul play.
On the hour mark Heaton finally edged themselves in front once again courtesy of a penalty but their slender lead was always going to be vulnerable in the closing stages as Trinity threw everything at their rivals in the hope of stealing the win.
The Tigers had a dubious decision go their way late on and they capitalised with a penalty from Berry 15 metres out.
Berry’s goal levelled the scores once again but the away side were down to 12 men for the remainder of the game because of dissent.
Nevertheless Heaton defended valiantly and held on for a well-earned point which keeps them at the top of division. But Ossett could leapfrog them if they win any of their three games in hand.