The two Holliday Cup finalists are looking in good shape for their Easter Monday showdown.
While Newsome Panthers celebrated their final Pennine League Championship I fixture of the season with a 30-14 victory at Birkenshaw, St Joseph’s won their penultimate game 28-24 at Ossett Trinity. They will now visit Morley Borough for their last game a week after the Holliday final.
The Panthers clearly had one eye on Easter Monday when they visited fellow mid-table team Birkenshaw, with several players rested after picking up knocks in last week’s Holliday semi-final success over Slaithwaite Saracens.
But it still proved a full-blooded affair, with the Newsome forwards having to battle hard to finally get on top.
As a result, it was only in the second half that the Panthers took full control to score four unanswered tries, the highlight being a score from Jebel Ceesay from inside his own half, beating two Birkenshaw defenders to round off a good day.
There were also tries from Jordan Grout, Will Smith, Dom Newton, Will Wallace and Ryan Heeley, while Luke Brewster landed three goals and Joe Parkinson named the man-of-the-match, with the overall team performance giving head coach Ben Dawson a selection headache for Easter Monday.
St Joseph’s will also head to Huddersfield YMCA’s Laund Hill in winning form after grinding out a four-point win at bottom club Ossett.
Saints started strongly with a try from Craig Lee, converted by Nick Mitchell, before Ossett got themselves back into the game with two tries and a conversion to lead 10-6.
But in the final 10 minutes of the half the visitors turned on the style to score three converted tries.
Joe Flaherty, Liam Donlan and Mitchell all crossed for scores, with Mitchell landing all the goals to make it 24-10 at the break.
And when Shaun Mitchell extended the lead to 18 points at the start of the second period, it looked as if a big score was on the cards, particularly with the likes of men-of-the-match George Scott, Richard Aka and Jason Southwell setting a fine example.
Unfortunately, however, for the rest of the half Saints were unable to tighten their grip, with some questionable referring decisions not helping their cause.
In the end, Joe’s just did enough to hold onto their lead, with coach Simon Hagger happy to beat his former team but hoping they could have produced a more emphatic performance to take in to their final meeting.
Meanwhile, Slaithwaite Saracens’ season of woe continued week with a 38-14 BARLA Cup defeat at Queensbury.
Even though the visitors had plenty of the ball, the hosts’ defence was up to it and by half-time the Bradford side had opened up a 16-0 lead.
The Saracens started the second half strongly and within 10 minutes had reduced the deficit to six points, with tries from Stuart Dunbar and George Ward and a Gavin Dyson goal.
Ward went on to add a second, but with Queensbury adding two either side of that score, it proved to be a bitterly-disappointing afternoon.