SHAW CROSS SHARKS retained the Ben Restall Memorial Trophy with a hard-fought 12-8 victory at Dewsbury Celtic.
In the first game of 2019 for both sides, Nathan Wright, Luke Somers and Callum Barker scored the tries for the Sharks to seal a narrow win over their local rivals.
Dom Senior and Anthony Dunford touched down for the hosts, and coach Brendan Sheridan believed they could have got more from the game.
“We started pretty well but we just lacked a bit of pace,” he admitted. “I think we expected to win the game in the first half but it doesn’t work like that.
“There was a lot of change in the second half which lost our cohesion in certain positions, but other than that I was pretty impressed with them.
“Obviously the negatives will be looked at on the training field, but the positives are the first half where we had plenty of chances to get over the line and there was a bit of naivety for the first game.”
For his opposite number Paul March, there were plenty of positives to take as a young line-up managed to get over the line for the win.
The Sharks coach said: “I did speak about when they get into a dark place when they get physically tired, just to keep going and see if they could come through the other side. Watching the game, I thought they did that very well.
“The skill levels were good in the conditions and we’ll get better in that. Obviously we had a lot of young lads out there with some under 18s and two under 16s, but I thought they did a credit to themselves, and if we’re producing youngsters like that then the club’s going to be in a good state in years to come.”
The Sharks got off to the perfect start with a try after eight minutes. It wasn’t the silkiest, but a kick in behind ricocheted and fell for Wright to score in the corner.
Their lead was soon cancelled though as Celtic hit back, with Senior driving through the Shaw Cross defence and then evading two more defenders to touch down and level the scores.
Celtic were the more dominant force for much of the rest of the first half, but the Sharks defended their try line admirably as the sides went into the break even.
However, it was a different story in the second half as the visitors came out rejuvenated, and they could have scored within seconds of the restart when Cam Benson broke clear and looked to sprint the distance, but Danny Thomas was able to block and haul him into touch.
Shaw Cross kept on the front foot and their efforts paid off eventually, when Sam Ottewell placed a grubber kick perfectly for Somers to touch down on the right edge and regain the lead.
They backed that up five minutes later with a superb try. Celtic coughed up the ball close to the visitors’ line, and Barker was sent away to sprint the length of the field and extend their advantage to eight points.
With the clock ticking down the home side did find a response, with Dunford scoring in the left corner to give Celtic hope going into the final four minutes.
Shaw Cross were able to see out those final seconds though to win the Ben Restall Memorial Trophy and secure a good start to their pre-season, ahead of this weekend’s Challenge Cup tie with Haydock and the start of their NCL Division Two campaign in March.