THORNHILL TROJANS were dealt a harsh lesson about what life in the NCL Premier Division is going to be like in a disappointing 30-20 defeat against Rochdale Mayfield in the Challenge Cup.
The Trojans came into the game on a high after a stunning victory at the division’s champions Hunslet Parkside in the first round.
However, fellow top-flight side Mayfield showed the Trojans they should take nothing for granted as they were dumped out of the cup.
Thornhill never really got going in this game, and poor discipline cost them with an early red card to Jack Gledhill and a late one to Zach Johnson, which left them with just 11 men at full-time.
Both teams scored four tries, but the difference was that the visitors used the penalties which the Trojans gifted them to kick goals and pull clear to victory.
Thornhill made a terrible start as Rochdale put them under early pressure.
A strong run from prop Sean Hurley proved to be too much for the defence to contend with as he forced his way over the line for a try, which Zak Hartley converted.
This score was swiftly followed by a penalty goal from Hartley as the visitors continued to torment their opponents in the early stages of this game.
A high tackle then caused tempers to boil over as players rushed in to settle their differences. When order was restored, Rochdale’s Mark Biggins was shown a yellow card for his part in the dispute, followed by a red for Gledhill.
Another penalty goal from Rochdale’s Hartley increased their lead to 10-0 before Thornhill finally showed some spirit right on the half-hour mark with a try from George Stott.
Swift handling from Thornhill saw the ball travel at speed along the attacking line, an overlap was created and Stott went over for an unconverted try near to the corner.
This score was soon cancelled out with a try from Rochdale. From a scrum, Rochdale took play blind and space was created for winger Munya Samanyanga to score a try in the corner.
Hartley converted and added another penalty goal to stretch their lead to 18-4 going into the break.
Harsh words were exchanged by the Thornhill players during the half-time interval as the Trojans looked to dig themselves out of the hole.
Thornhill began the second period with more direction, and they pressed for the Rochdale line until Matthew Tebb twisted his way over for a try from close range. Woodcock added the extras.
However, two quick-fire tries from the visitors left the Trojans with too much to do and victory was virtually secured.
First, Lewis Sheridan broke clear from just inside Thornhill’s half of the field and sped away for a superb long-range try.
When the game restarted a missed tackle left their try line exposed, and John Foy took advantage of the opening to cross for another try which Hartley converted.
With Rochdale now leading by 20 points there didn’t look to be enough time left on the clock for the Trojans to salvage anything from this game, although they did manage a late flurry.
A run around from Thornhill close to the try line ended with Johnson forcing his way over for a try, and Stott then burst through the Rochdale defence to reach out and plant the ball down over the line.
It proved to be too little, too late though, and Thornhill’s afternoon was summed up when Johnson was held up over the line. Tempers boiled over and the referee showed Johnson the red card.
The Trojans must now regroup and prepare for the visit of West Hull on March 2 to start their Premier Division campaign.