THORNHILL TROJANS will play in the third round of the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2007 after a comprehensive victory over Normanton Knights (58-14), earning a tie against semi-professional League One outfit Doncaster.
However, the win last weekend was overshadowed by a serious injury to Normanton’s winger Charlie Barker in the first set of six in the game. The Knights kicked forward and the ball reached Barker, but he twisted as he attempted to avoid going into touch.
He lay on the touchline with a suspected broken leg and the game was held up for 50 minutes while an ambulance arrived to take Barker to hospital.
When play resumed, Thornhill quickly built up a lead which Normanton were left to valiantly chase for the remainder of the game.
Luke Haigh was absolutely outstanding in the game, looking lively in attack and creating several opportunities for Thornhill.
There was also a brilliant performance from man of the match Casey Johnson, another player who continually caused Normanton all sorts of problems.
It was Haigh who scored the first try of the game. This was created by Liam Morley who broke clear to put Matthew Tebb away, and he in turn fed Haigh to finish the move by scoring a try between the posts which Johnson converted.
Moments later Thornhill were once again testing the Normanton tryline. Haigh took play close and then, from the play-the-ball, Tom Gledhill powered over for another converted try.
Thornhill were now on a roll and seemed to be having an easy time of things, as Haigh stood up in a tackle and managed to get a pass out to Will Gledhill to get over the line. This was the only unsuccessful conversion attempt all game from Johnson, who had a remarkable afternoon kicking nine from 10 attempts.
Whether it was a case of Thornhill easing off or Normanton eventually recovering from the early injury setback, the visitors began to cause the Trojans some problems. After a stoppage in play which saw a Normanton player carried from the field, Ryan Kelsey forced his way over for a try, resulting in cheers from the large contingent of travelling supporters. Jacob Crossland converted.
A chip over from Normanton then caught the defence out and Luke Camplin was up in support of this attack to complete the move and go over for an unconverted try.
With their hold on the game now reduced to six points, Thornhill knew they had to get their act together. A try from Johnson, straight from a penalty situation, helped to steady their nerves.
Thornhill then scored a try through what appeared to be an element of good fortune. George Woodcock made a raid on the line but looked to have lost the ball, a defender failed to clear play and Declan Kaye pounced onto the loose ball to apply the necessary downward pressure. After consulting his touch judge the referee awarded the try, much to the annoyance of the Normanton supporters.
Just before half-time the Knights scored a well-worked try. From a play-the-ball close to the Thornhill line, the ball was flipped towards the bottom touchline and Ben Carter was alert to the switch in play and took the ball to score an unconverted try in the corner.
However, in the second half the Trojans reigned supreme, scoring 34 unanswered points.
The hosts had Sam Ratcliffe sin-binned early in the second half for tackling a player who was already on the floor. Despite this setback, they managed to score a try when Tom Gledhill sent out a pass which picked out Johnson and the loose forward ran onto the ball to score.
Thornhill then had Anthony Harris sent to the sin bin as well for punching before George Woodcock made a terrific break, with Haigh up in support to take the pass and go over for a try.
Haigh became try creator when he broke clear and sent a pass which picked out winger Ross Roebuck. There was never any doubt what was going to happen when Roebuck took the pass in full flight to race away.
In the closing stages of this game Kaye completed his hat-trick of tries. After having two earlier scores waved away by the referee, Kaye finally got his second try when the ball was flung along the attacking line to allow him to score in the corner.
The same move was then repeated by Thornhill and reaped the same reward as Kaye dived over in the corner to complete his treble.
Monday night’s draw saw the Trojans handed a home clash against Doncaster, which will be played on February 8. The club have confirmed that the game will take place at the Tetley’s Stadium with a 2pm kick-off.