SLAITHWAITE Saracens are now even firmer favourites for the Pennine League Second Division title – thanks to Huddersfield rivals Newsome Panthers!
While the Saracens were making it 17 wins from 17 games with their 34-18 home victory over Dearne Valley Bulldogs, Newsome were sharing in a 24-24 draw at leaders Westgate Wolves, who dropped their third point of the season.
But while the Wolves will have been bitterly disappointed to have dropped a point, they had to acknowledge the efforts of their opponents, who showed true team spirit and determination to earn a fully-deserved point.
Despite missing several regulars due to injury and then losing Harry Quillan to a knee injury after just five minutes, Newsome battled strongly at the start and were soon 4-0 ahead thanks to a try from James Wallace.
Westgate did threaten the Newsome line, but were unable to break through a solid defence which was well led by Ben Cuttell with 27 tackles, and the Panthers took full advantage as Ross Studholme and Thomas Guinan combined to send Austen Barrowclough over for a try, converted by Studholme, to make it 10-0.
Studholme then landed a penalty before Westgate scored for the first time to make it 12-6 at the break.
Westgate started the second half strongly, scoring two early tries to take the lead, but the Panthers regained their composure to level the scores at 18-18 after Dave Farrell pounced on a Damien Kenchington chip to score.
Unfortunately, such was the see-saw nature of this top tussle, that the Wolves bit again to go 24-18 ahead with 10 minutes remaining.
But Newsome refused to give up the fight and, with man-of-the-match Wes Devlin leading the challenge, the prop created the position for Kenchington to score and for Studholme to convert to give the Panthers a deserved share of the points.
At the same time, Slaithwaite were involved in a tough game with the Bulldogs, who certainly made sure they lived up to their name.
There was little to separate the sides at the break, with the Saracens holding a 16-12 lead thanks to tries from Kyle Dyson, Darren Hawkyard and Richard Flooks and two Danny Garside goals.
Two minutes after the restart David Holmes finished off a superb Hawkyard break to settle any lingering Slaithwaite nerves, and further tries from Nathan Shaw and Flooks and Garside goals sealed the outcome.