UNDERBANK Rangers are off the mark in the Co-Operative National Conference League.
After defeats to Hemel Stags and Liverpool Buccaneers, the Huddersfield side opened their account with a 30-16 victory at East Lancashire Lions.
Despite fielding six Under 18s because of the number of players who still have winter commitments, the visitors were the better team and thoroughly deserved their win, even though their hosts did reduce the lead to four points with 12 minutes remaining.
A strong opening soon put Rangers on top.
Within two minutes, influential hooker John Birt had forced his way over to give his side the ideal start.
Mark Pemberton’s penalty opened Easts’ account before two tries in six minutes put Underbank in charge.
Centres Chris Beal and Tom Senior both crossed for scores to make it 14-2, and even though Adam Toole reduced the deficit with a converted try to reduce the gap to six points, Rangers remained in the driving seat.
Ben Williams gave the hosts further hope with a try in the 55th minute, but five minutes later Birt came to his side’s rescue by dummying his way over for a vital second score, which he also converted.
Tony Doyle again narrowed the gap (to 20-16) in the 68th minute to set up a nail-biting finale, with the Lions pressing hard in a bid to draw level.
But with five minutes remaining scrum half Matt Garside intercepted a pass deep inside his own territory and raced 80 metres to score before Senior added his second to secure the points.