LONDON-based Wests Warriors picked up the first Kevin Squires Memorial Trophy as they defeated Shaw Cross Sharks 20-12 in a friendly at Leeds Road last weekend.
The game was held in memory of Shaw Cross honorary life member Kevin Squires, who sadly passed away earlier last week, with a minute’s silence being held before kick-off.
It was the first ever meeting between the two clubs, with the visitors only being formed in 2014. But despite their lack of experience the Warriors were always going to prove a tough test for the Sharks following their impressive unbeaten season in the London Premier League last year.
It was a new-look Shaw Cross side, and only five of the starting XIII played in the team’s final home game of the 2016 National Conference League Division One season.
Shaw Cross were quickest out of the blocks, making several breaks in the Warriors line and they were rewarded with the first try of the game with 10 minutes played.
Debutant centre Tom Griffiths received the ball on the right wing after a flowing move gave him the space he needed to put the ball down.
The Warriors continued to withstand the pressure from the Sharks as they conceded possession and territory, but with half an hour played they got themselves on the scoreboard.
A menacing kick high into the in-goal area was not dealt with by the Sharks back line and prop forward Brendan Smith pounced on the loose ball to score.
The beginning of the second half was error-strewn as both sides repeatedly knocked the ball on. But the visitors made the most of the errors from the Sharks and scored the game’s third try.
Winger Brad Aird was on the end of a swift passing move towards the left wing and raced over the line and round behind the posts to give his side the lead.
However, the Sharks were trailing for just five minutes before stand-off Danny Flowers brilliantly intercepted the ball as he leaped to gather a Warriors pass before going underneath the posts to put his side back in control.
It would prove to be Shaw Cross’ last score of the afternoon as Wests regained the lead 10 minutes later.
Aird was in for his second try of the game as he touched the ball down in the left corner, and Blayde Fiu was on hand to kick Wests into a two-point lead.
Tempers boiled over in the closing stages with players from both teams exchanging punches. The brawl forced both coaches to enter the field of play to calm matters down.
But the Warriors sealed the victory on the full-time whistle as Jarred Bassett powered through the tacklers to score beside the posts. Fiu was on hand to kick the conversion.
Despite the result Shaw Cross head coach Brett Turner was pleased with his side’s performance. He said: “We got what we needed out of the game. A good, physical run-out and a look at some of the new boys.
“The result didn’t go our way, but I’m still really positive. We had a few unavailable and probably went with too many numbers on the bench, which disrupted us a little.
“All credit to Wests though, they played fair and deserved the win. We wish them the best of luck in the Challenge Cup in a couple of weeks.”