TWO second half tries from Hunslet Old Boys proved decisive in ensuring Thornhill Trojans’ run in this season’s BARLA NATIONAL CUP came to an abrupt end with an 18-12 loss at Overthorpe Park.
The Trojans were good value and put on an impressive show despite the late withdrawal of several players before the game.
This meant that coach James Ratcliffe had to look to a number of the club’s less experienced ‘A’ team players to see if they could step up to the mark in this crunch cup tie.
Youngster Mindaugas Bendikas was given his first start of the season out on the wing, whilst teenager Jake Hickling was started in the second row, and all of Thornhill’s named substitutes had yet to experience first team rugby for Thornhill this season.
The hosts started the game with purpose and had good early pressure on the Hunslet try line.
But it was Hunslet who opened the scoring, against the run of play, when they broke at pace and the move was finished by hooker Josh Murphy when he went over for an unconverted try.
However, Thornhill recovered from this set back to score a spectacular try.
The move was started by winger Joss Ratcliffe when he gathered a towering kick from the Old Boys, he then took play forward before passing inside to the supporting Joel Gibson who covered the rest of the field to score.
Man-of-the-match Gibson failed to convert his own try, leaving the scores level.
The Trojans then took the lead when Luke Haigh made a wonderful break from 20 meters out and found winger Bendikas, who dived over for a try.
Gibson converted and Thornhill were looking good.
However, the big Hunslet pack then began to take a hold on the game, with a forward drive leaving a trail of Trojans defenders strewn on the floor, and Andrew Hullock took advantage to notch an unconverted try.
In the run up to half time there were a couple of quick sin-binnings.
First to go was Thornhill’s Joe Naidole for use of the elbow, leaving the field having not yet touched the ball and having only just entered play moments earlier.
Straight after Naidole’s yellow card referee Steve Presley was once again making use of the sin-bin for Hunslet’s Keiran Murphy for use of the forearm.
From the resultant penalty Gibson kicked a goal for Thornhill to make the half time score 12-8.
The second half was a real arm wrestle but two tries, five minutes apart, from Hunslet proved to be Thornhill’s undoing. The first came as the home defence was sucked in.
The ball was thrown out to the wing and Jerome Malcolm was found with ample space, and the winger sped away and over for a try, which Jamie Fields converted.
Thornhill’s fate was sealed when the visitors executed a good attacking move which put Ryan Campbell over for an unconverted try in the corner.
Thornhill battled to the end but there was no way through. Hunslet Old Boys had done enough to progress to the next round.
Despite the loss, there was a feeling of victory in defeat, in that this Thornhill team could run the experienced Old Boys team so close, considering the same team had only recently brushed them aside in the Yorkshire Cup final.
The Trojans are away tomorrow (Sat), as they face Pennine Premier rivals West Bowling at Emsley’s Rec.