Ratcliffe shines as Trojans beat champions Sharlston
Thornhill Trojans produced a backs-to-the-wall display to beat Pennine League Premier Division champions Sharlston Rovers 16-10 last Saturday.
Thornhill travelled with only 16 fit players, with injured Anthony Broadhead making up the numbers and Shane Robinson coming out of retirement.
Coach James Ratcliffe changed things around and switching Joel Gibson to fullback proved a masterstroke.
Gibson’s kicking game helped pin Sharlston back and forced the home side to spill the ball in the muddy conditions.
Trojans’ MoM was Danny Ratcliffe, with other outstanding performances from Anthony Harris and Ben Kendall.
Rovers took a second minute lead when good handling put Danny Field over for a try. Scott Glassell converted.
Gibson kicked forward and the ball was booted over half the length of the field as players gave chase in the slippery conditions.
Gibson dived into the in-goal area to slide onto the ball and Thornhill celebrated the score, with Sam Ratcliffe adding a brilliant goal from out wide to level matters.
The break through Thornhill needed to put them in control of the game came right on the stroke of half-time.
Jordan Lowther chipped the ball high into the in-goal area and Lowther pounced.
The referee once again pointed to the spot to signify a try and the Thornhill players were ecstatic. The conversion was off target but the Trojans led 10-6 at the interval.
Thornhill kept their heads in the second half, not allowing the muddy conditions to sap their energy.
Danny Ratcliffe played on despite an altercation involving Sharlston’s Lee Lingard and Thornhill’s Dale Brook.
Danny Ratcliffe didn’t stop and raced forward to plant the ball down behind the posts. Sam Ratcliffe converted much to the protests of the Sharlston players and Thornhill appeared to be heading for an unexpected victory.
Brook and Lingard were sent to the sin bin to cool off following their altercation.
Sharlston reduced Thornhill’s hold on the game when a kick to the corner was followed up by Adam Jones.
Thornhill made a hash of trying to clear the ball and the referee ruled that Jones had got a hand to score a try. The conversion attempt was missed.
It was now left for Thornhill to hang on and wind down the clock.
An attempted drop goal from Gibson was off target but when the full-time whistle sounded Thornhill celebrated a superb win which sees them climb up to third in a revamped Pennine Premier Division.