Thornhill restricted to frustrating draw

Thornhill Trojans
Thornhill Trojans

Thornhill Trojans produced a battling performance but were restricted to a frustrating 26-26 draw away to Saddleworth Rangers.

The National Conference Division Two clash was littered with penalties against both teams with the referee showing four yellow cards.

Thornhill included the returning James Craven among their substitutes after being released by Batley Bulldogs in midweek.

Craven came on as a first half replacement for the injured Mindaugas Bendikas and marked his return by scoring a try and picking up the man of the match award.

There was also another outstanding performance from Liam Morley at scrum half, while Jake Ratcliffe had his best game of the season.

Jake Ratcliffe helped set up Thornhill’s first score when his solid tackle forced Saddleworth to knock on and from the scrum, Bendikas sprinted clear of the Saddleworth defence to score a long range try. Andrew Bates converted.

Saddleworth full-back Ethan Langhorn charged over for a try. Ben Whitehead converted and then kicked a penalty to nudge Rangers ahead.

Morley collected the ball and stepped through the Saddleworth defence to score a cracking solo try, which Bates converted.

Thornhill then suffered a setback when Lee Smith was sinbinned for an alleged infringement at a play the ball.

Matt Bottom crashed over for a try following a well executed Saddleworth move. Whitehead converted and kicked another penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Thornhill made a great start to the second half when Craven marked his return with a try after showing a terrific turn of pace to race over and Bates converted.

Thornhill’s strong start to the second half continued when Jake Wilson appeared to have broken clear only to be pulled back for a forward pass.

Saddleworth then scored a controversial try when the referee got in the way of an attacking move and tumbled to the ground.

Rangers got the ball over the line and Josh Bradbury’s try was awarded despite Trojans protests.

Rob Kelly kicked the ball away and was sin-binned before Whitehead converted.

Scott Dyson initiated an attack which stretched the Saddleworth defence. He found Jake Ratcliffe who sent out a slick pass which put Ryan Fenton over for a try out wide. Bates kicked a glorious goal from the touchline to give Thornhill the lead only for Whitehead to level with a penalty goal.

Saddleworth fluffed another penalty goal attempt from in front of the Thornhill posts, while the home side were wide with a drop goal attempt.

Morley was also off target with a drop goal attempt before Bates hammered over a long range penalty to edge Thornhill back in front.

Rangers were awarded a penalty two minutes from time, which Whitehead kicked to level matters, before Kelly and Saddleworth’s James Whalley were sin-binned for fighting, ending afrustrating afternoon for the Trojans.