Sharks struggles continue as the surrender half-time lead and slip to defeat

Sam Ottewell's effort was in vain for Shaw Cross.
Sam Ottewell's effort was in vain for Shaw Cross.

Shaw Cross Sharks surrendered a 12-0 half-time lead as they slipped to a 22-12 defeat in National Conference League Division Two last Saturday.

The Sharks produced an impressive first half display as robust defence combined with some smart attacking play allowed Sam Ottewell and Declan Brereton to score tries, which put them ahead.

However, down on men, they struggled after the break under near-constant pressure as the home side turned the match around to win.

Shaw Cross handed a debut to second rower Daniel Irvine, while Paul March and Ben Lyles returned to the side for the first time this season.

They made a solid start and claimed the first points after 12 minutes when, after Owen Lumb had weaved round the defence and won a penalty, the ball was moved left and full-back Ottewell stepped past his man to score.

March added the conversion and then made it 8-0 with a penalty goal, after strong defence denied Crosfields the chance to score.

A March 40-20 kick gave the Sharks more good position as they kept on the front foot, and a few minutes later the lead was extended to 12-0 as Callum Barker ran at the line and delivered a perfectly-timed pass for Brereton to race clear.

It remained 12-0 at half-time, thanks to a superb defensive effort from Luke Somers to prevent what looked to be a certain Crosfields try in the corner in the final minute.

However, errors right from the beginning of the second half made the final 40 minutes much tougher.

They allowed Crosfields’ kick-off to bounce and run out, inviting pressure which eventually told as Elliott Bugden-Bridge went over for their first try.

The home side scored again five minutes later, as a good offload sent Joe Clarke away and he found John Whittaker to finish the move. Luke Walker added both conversions to level the scores at 12-12.

Mistakes ensured the Sharks had to keep defending, although they were handed a reprieve when Dan Reid dropped the ball with the line begging after a crossfield kick to the winger.

However, Shaw Cross were unable to hang on and, as the clock ticked past the hour mark, Louis Wainwright crossed to give Crosfields the lead.

Shaw Cross then kicked the restart out on the full, bringing yet more pressure on their line as the ball was moved right for Aaron Holliday ran into the corner and extended the advantage to 22-12, and a tiring side could find no response in the final 15 minutes.

The Sharks remain second-bottom in the table ahead of Saturday’s clash at home to fourth placed Wigan St Judes.