Underbank Rangers clinch third spot in the National Conference third tier

Automatic promotion still a possibility after comprehensive victory

Lee St Hilaire scores a try for Underbank Rangers against Crosfield

Underbank clinched third place in National Confernce League Division III with two rounds of the regular season remaining.

Rangers dominated their Warrington visitors easing to a comfortable 50-0 nine-try victory over fourth placed Crosfields.

Rangers are now in pole position for the play-offs that will determine the third promotion spot, but automatic promotion is still a possibility if rivals Blackbrook lose one of their final two fixtures and Rangers win both of their remaining matches.

The victory marked coach Richard Knight’s 100th success since taking over the reins in 2009.

Underbank welcomed back forwards Matt Adam and Luke Karolczuk, and skipper Lee St Hilaire for the unavailable Rob Joyce Craig Williams and coach Knight.

Winger St Hilaire opened the scoring on only the second play of the game for an easy walk-in score.

Crosfields kicked out on full from the restart, and on the fifth tackle half back James Usher put Adam through a gap for a second try.

Stand off Neil Barrett converted both tries, two of seven successful kicks on the day, and it was a surprise that it took another 12 minutes for the lead to be increased.

That try came when St Hilaire held a kick from Barrett to grab his second touchdown and shortly after centre Alex Chatterton snapped up a loose pass from Crosfields and raced 40 metres before handing to Usher to score.

The first half scoring was completed with a double whammy.

Crosfields lost possession deep in Underbank territory and centre Michael Lang and Michael Murphy carried the ball to five metres from the Crosfields line.

A quick play-the-ball by Murphy enabled Pawson to over for the first of his brace.

Then a blind side move saw quick passing release Chatterton and he fed St Hilaire superbly with a flick pass for the veteran to complete his hat trick.

Two more Barrett goals sent the hosts in 32-0 up at half-time.

Crosfields improved their defensive effort in the second period to restrict Underbank to three converted tries, but the most pleasing aspect for Rangers was their own defence which remained steadfast, disciplined and unbreached come the final whistle.

The first try of the second half came when Pawson raced 40 metres for his second after being released by centre partner Lang.

Then came the try of the game with Adam making a typical strong burst up the middle.

He found Dave Valentine with a perfect timed pass and the prop carried the ball a further 20 metres and, as he was being hauled down, Valentine off-loaded to Usher for a fine score.

Full back Courtney Allette and Chatterton combined to create the final try.

Breaking through the right centre channel the pair made good ground before finding replacement winger Corey Noel, who managed to outpace the covering defence for a great touchdown.

Barrett converted all three of the second half scores as Rangers eased out to a half century.

Centre Chatterton took the Bengal Spice man-of-the-match award, but he was pushed hard for the award by the impressive Allette, Luke Nelmes and hat trick scorer St Hilaire.

Rangers team: Courtney Allette; Lee St Hilaire, Alex Chatterton, Michael Lang, Dan Pawson; Neil Barrett, James Usher; Dave Valentine, Stephen Berry, Jordan Williams, Michael Murphy, Sam Rochford, Matt Adam. Subs: Corey Noel, Luke Nelmes, Andy Boothroyd, Luke Karolczuk

 
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