ST JOSEPH’S took a huge step in securing their Pennine League Premier Division status with a resounding 52-10 triumph over Siddal.
With the games rapidly running out for the teams below them in the relegation zone, it’s now looking as if Joe’s will remain in the top flight and can look forward to a mouth-watering Premier League derby with Slaithwaite Saracens next season.
Slaithwaite’s promotion is already nailed on, with the Division I title now within touching distance after their 34-6 home victory over King Cross Park.
But while Saracens’ success could be described as ‘routine’, it was far from of it for Joe’s who had plenty to celebrate on the back of their stunning Siddal victory.
The first half proved a scrappy affair, with both sides being guilty of numerous handling errors.
However, the introduction of substitute forward Paul Horsfall seemed to lift the home side and Joe’s quickly opened up an 8-0 lead with tries from Jordan Williams and Daz Kelly.
Siddal then hit back with an unconverted try before winger Richard Aka grabbed the first of his four tries try just before half-time following a break from Lee St Hilaire to make it 14-4 at the break.
The second half was a totally different affair, and following some astute tactical changes from coach Keith Senior, the home team totally dominated the second half.
Some superb centre play from Craig Lee paved the way for three further tries for Aka, all of them starting in Joe’s half, as well as Lee claiming two tries for himself.
Joe Flaherty also crossed for two tries as the home side continually ripped the Siddal defence apart down the left.
Neil Barrett added six conversions, while Aka was named the man-of-the-match, closely followed by St Hilaire, Flaherty and Lee.
Runaway Division I leaders Slaithwaite, however, were made to work much harder for their victory over King Cross.
In fact, the Halifax side made their intentions clear from the start, crossing for a converted try after nine minutes to take a deserved lead.
But, as usual, the Saracens stepped up a gear and Shaun Mitchell opened his side’s account following a typically strong run to set Slaithwaite on their way.
Then five minutes later came the try of the match when Darren Hawkyard broke from halfway on the right flank and the ball was worked to the lefty and back again for the captain to finish off a move he started, with Danny Garside adding the extras to give his side a lead they were never to lose.
Richard Flooks raced in on the stroke of half-time to make it 14-6, and a 17th win of the season was already in the bag.
The Saracens’ defence in the second half was rock solid, with the hard-working forwards breaking up any King Cross attack.
It took the home side 15 minutes to extend their lead as Hawkyard crossed for his second and seven minutes later Simon Burkenshaw raced 60m to score under the posts.
And with 15 minutes remaining Stuart Dunbar scored in virtually the same spot before Burkenshaw was over again and Garside converted to seal another win.