THE DOOR to a third consecutive final of the Holliday Cup was wide open for St Joseph’s.
But, despite a 16-6 half-time lead in the semi-final encounter with Moldgreen, their arch rivals produced an impressive second-half display making sure it slammed shut soon afterwards.
Coach Andrew Baimbridge’s side scored three tries and one converted kick after the restart to win 20-16 and end any hopes St Joseph’s had of retaining the trophy.
The game played in front of a bumper Fartown crowd, was a repeat of last year’s final when, similarly, Moldgreen were victorious.
St Joseph’s coach Keith Senior said his team gifted their opponents the win.
“In the short space of time I’ve been here, I have seen some positive things from my players,” said Senior, far right.
“Yet, we put ourselves against the wall in this game by some sloppy play and I saw a side to the lads I didn’t like.”
Leeds and Great Britain star Senior said in the first five minutes, for instance, his side gave away five penalties.
He added: “No matter what division you play in you can’t afford to do such sloppy things.”
In their win, Moldgreen took an early lead through a Neil Thornton penalty.
The hosts, however, struck back after 11 minutes when Neil Barrett capitalised on space in the visitors’ defence and sprinted towards the try line to touch down. Barrett also converted.
Philip Drain supplied a delightful pass to Graham Hyland shortly after, who extended St Joseph’s lead by finding space in the Moldgreen back line to snatch a try.
Barrett made the score 12-2 on 29 minutes with a penalty kick, but the visitors then started to show signs of a fightback following a Robert Joyce try, although Neil Thornton failed with the conversion attempt.
St Joseph’s restored their 10-point advantage shortly after the restart when Ben Lewis touched down.
But on 60, 65 and 75 minutes a try apiece for Dean Bradshaw, Sean James and Jonathon Ward respectively, with one conversion kick from Rob Joyce, sealed Moldgreen’s win.
Moldgreen will now play Pennine League Third Division side Slaithwaite Saracens in the final on Easter Monday.
Baimbridge said after the game he was delighted with the semi-final victory against their Premier Division hosts.
“It’s a pleasing result because we came into it with indifferent form. We came from 10 points behind and showed a lot of spirit.” said Baimbridge, left.
“Local people did not think much of our chances really and this worked well for the boys.”
Baimbridge said reaching the final is the sign of a great team effort and is full of respect for Slaithwaite who his team will face.
“It will be a tight game. The team who turns up with the best attitude will probably win.
“We’ve not played them (Slaithwaite) for a while so it will be good to meet up,” said Baimbridge.