Just one competition point and one league table place separated Underbank Rangers and Kells in the National Conference Premier – and that’s how it stayed after they drew 14-14 at The Cross.
As Kells coach Peter Smith summed up: “Neither team deserved to win, but neither team deserved to lose.”
Kells, in fact, gained a point with a last-minute penalty, so he was the happier of the two head coaches – Underbank’s Richard Knight rueing his side’s inability to play 80 minutes.
Playing up the slope, Kells shaded the first half and deservedly led 8-4 at the break, scoring two unconverted tries to a single response from Rangers’ centre Alex Chatterton.
However, the expected comfortable victory for the visitors didn’t materialise as they rarely looked like breaching the Underbank defence, whereas the home side played far better in the second 40, scored the only try through Owen Restall and should had taken the two points.
Home half back Luke Pogson successfully kicked the conversion after Restall’s score, plus two second half penalties, the last of which came in the 78th minute to give Rangers a two-point lead.
But, in the following set, Underbank interfered at the play-the-ball and Kells’ Ross Gainford slotted the game-tying points with a penalty.
Overall the game was a real tight affair, but the opening quarter was probably as open as any other period of the contest with the visitors opening the scoring on five minutes.
Kells moved the ball swiftly to their right edge and wing Harry Watson raced over. Gainford missed the conversion, as he did almost 30 minutes later trying to convert Kells’ second try.
In between times, after 11 minutes Underbank were level as Hirst sent Chatterton through a gap and the centre did the rest. Pogson missed.
Kells second try was a beauty on 34 from Jordan Herve, running 40m.
Will Broadbent-Allan and England released Restall for a score which Pogson converted.
Gainsford levelled after a goalline drop-out by Underbank, who responded with a Pogson penalty on 63. Gainsford again levelled just three minutes later. An easy penalty two minutes from time again allowed Pogson to put Underbank ahead, but the visitors managed to sneak a point.
Nick Briggs won the Bengal Spice Man of the Match, while Joey Bobbin was selected Rose & Crown Players’ Player of the Match.