Thornhill Trojans kicked off the defence of their Xamax BARLA National Cup crown with a hard-fought 8-6 first round success at Waterhead.
The Trojans featured new recruits Tom and Jack Gledhill, who have joined from Shaw Cross Sharks.
There was also a first team debut for Jonathan Hellings who has performed well in the Trojans’ 11-a-side team since joining from Mirfield Stags.
Chris Mitchell also stepped up from the A team to make his first team debut.
It proved incredibly difficult for both sides to fashion openings in the early stages with captain Danny Ratcliffe impressing but unable to break through the Waterhead back line.
Tempers also threatened to boil over with a number of poorly timed challenges from both sets of players causing stoppages in play.
The game eventually sprung into life six minutes before the break when Liam Morley, who was sporting a head bandage following a high challenge, burst clear to cross for the game’s first score.
George Woodcock tagged on the extras to put the visitors ahead going into the half-time break.
Early in the second half, Woodcock extended the gap to eight points with a penalty from close range and James Craven almost added to the Trojans’ tally but he was wrestled into touch by last-ditch defending metres from the line.
Another magnificent challenge from Woodcock prevented Waterhead from getting back into the game.
However, moments later they opened their account and were within two points when Jamie Mayall pressed on and dotted down for a self-converted try that put the game back in the balance
The home side almost snatched victory in the closing stages but Craven produced a try-saving tackle to protect the lead and earn a trip to Thatto Heath in the second round on Saturday, February 18.
The game was a very useful run-out for Trojans ahead of their forthcoming campaign in the National Conference League.