Delighted Underbank coach Richard Knight has praised his players for the hard work they produced to inflict a first National Conference League First Division defeat of the season on Thatto Heath Crusaders.
Knight’s men made it two wins from their opening six 2016 fixtures with a thoroughly-deserved 22-14 home triumph over their St Helens-based visitors who arrived at The Cross unbeaten with four from four.
But after opening up an 18-0 interval lead and then having to absorb a tremendous amount of second-half pressure to keep their noses in front, the Bank boss couldn’t have been happier for his hard-working side.
“I’m absolutely made up for the players,” said Knight. “The work they put in from start to finish was fantastic, and I’m delighted their efforts got the reward it deserved.
“At the moment, we are on a bit of a learning curve, because we’re obviously new to this level.
“You know that if you make mistakes you’re going to end up being punished, which has been the case in a number of our games.
“I wouldn’t say we’re a stupid team, but we have been playing ‘dumb’ at times and have been caught out. But we played a lot smarter – the result speaks for itself.”
Rangers obviously couldn’t have made a better start to the contest, with a dominant opening 40 minutes laying that 18-0 platform.
Danny Bravo was the first to strike, capitalising on a Stephen Berry grubber-kick to touch down for a try, converted by Luke Pogson, and that lead was doubled midway through the half when Andy Boothroyd’s flat pass put Austin Barrowclough over.
And just before the break, a blockbusting Craig Williams break from deep cut the Crusaders defence wide open and gave the supporting Kris Harrop a clear run to the line from halfway.
Pogson’s third conversion took the lead up to 18, but the visitors’ challenge was far from over and they reduced the deficit to 18-14 to set up a nervous finale – but two late Pogson penalties to claimed the two league points.