Underbank Rangers have returned to winning ways.
After suffering three successive defeats, head coach Richard Knight’s men celebrated a 16-10 hard-fought National Conference League Second Division victory at Askam.
Underbank were good value and looking comfortable with a 12-0 lead as the game entered its final quarter.
But the hosts rallied to close within two points with nine minutes remaining before former Giants favourite Paul Reilly grabbed his first try for the club after 76 minutes to steady the ship and guarantee a very valuable two competition points.
As a result, Underbank consolidated their fifth position and play-off spot in the table with three weeks of regular season games remaining.
Rangers’ starting 13 was unchanged from the side in action the previous week in the gallant home loss to leaders Millom, with the only change being on the bench where Michael Holmes returned for the unavailable Courtney Allette.
Young winger Will England had the first opportunity to open the scoring as the ball was moved swiftly to the right, but he was adjudged to have lost the ball in the act of scoring.
However, he atoned for the earlier error by opening the scoring after 11 minutes, when player-coach Knight hustled Askam into a handling error and the loose ball was pounced on by centre Alex Chatterton, who released England to outpace several chasing defenders on an 80m sprint to the line.
Hooker Luke Pogson added the easy conversion from in front of the posts to make it 6-0 at the break.
The second half started as a continuation of the first, with Underbank camped in the Askam half, and it was no surprise when the lead was doubled after 45 minutes.
Pogson kicked downfield on the last play, tackled the Askam player returning the ball and stripped the ball from his grasp.
From the resultant play-the-ball, Kris Harrop drew in three defenders and sweetly off-loaded to trailing full-back Chris Druett to dart over from 15m for a super try, which Pogson converted to put daylight between the sides.
That gap should have been greater after 65 minutes as Knight fired out a superb cut-out pass on the right edge to winger England who juggled the pass but couldn’t control the ball, and the opportunity was gone. Askam quickly responded to the let-off by grabbing two tries and one conversion from Tom Hopkins to cut the deficit to 12-10, and the pressure was on.
But with four minutes remaining stand-off Joel Croker kicked to the corner and left wing veteran Reilly leapt highest to take the ball and touchdown to score the clincher.
Pogson couldn’t add the difficult conversion, but Rangers were able to run down the clock to grab a priceless victory towards their play-off ambitions.
Justa reminder that the Underbank Rangers Rugby League Club AGM will be held on Monday, September 28 at 7.30pm in the clubhouse. All club members are cordially invited to attend.