Sharks slip closer to Conference relegation after narrow defeat to Pilkington

Brandon French scored two triesfor Shaw Cross.
Brandon French scored two triesfor Shaw Cross.

Shaw Cross Sharks slipped closer to relegation after a 24-16 home defeat to Pilkington Recs in National Conference League Division One last Saturday.

The Sharks led for much of the first half and were well on top, but two quick tries before the break turned the game.

They managed to reduce the deficit to two points late on but the visitors scored again to seal a win that pushes the Sharks closer to relegation.

Shaw Cross started brightly and got the first try after eight minutes as Shaun Squires collected his own short kick and offloaded to Brandon French, who powered over.

Pilkington responded when Jon Key went through the defence to score between the posts and Kyran Knapper kicked the first of his four conversions.

Recs lead lasted only two minutes as French scored his second after another good passing move to that right and he combined with winger Thomas Stuckey to receive the ball back and go over for a try which Squires converted.

Brilliant try-line defence by the Sharks preserved their lead as two players were held just short of the line and Mike Garrity was held up by a number of defenders when he drove over and tried to ground the ball.

The Sharks had opportunities close to the Pilkington line but couldn’t take advantage of them, as a combination of errors and strong defence kept them out.

The Sharks were well on top but were hit with two massive blows in the build up to half-time.

Pilkington created a gap for Tez Riley to drive through and score, with the conversion edging them in front.

Key then powered over for his second try, just after desperate defence had kept Jamie Smith out, and with the extras added in the final action of the half the gap was suddenly eight points.

Shaw Cross started the second half well and Dickie Piper was held up over the line.

The Sharks conceded way too many penalties and when they tried to mount a spell of pressure, they made errors in an attempt to create chances.

The Sharks were placed on a team warning and after another penalty Ross Roebuck was sent to the bin.

Ash Berry broke to put the Sharks in a good position before the ball was moved wide for Ryan Chalkley to send Stuckey diving in at the corner. Squires nailed the conversion from the touchline.

With the Sharks in a good position another error gifted Pilkington the ball back and Smith dived over for a converted try to seal the win.

With Oulton Raiders and Ince Rose Bridge both securing victories, Shaw Cross are now three points adrift of safety with just four matches remaining.