CHAMPIONS Underbank Rangers hit eight straight wins in the National Conference League Division III as they outclassed Bramley Buffaloes 30-12 in a feisty encounter at The Cross.
Lee St Hilaire was doubtful to play but the skipper and Adam Ryder each bagged a brace with James Usher and Courtney Allette securing the three points.
Omar Al-Rawi and Nicholas Fontaine looked to channel an upset by going over, but the men from Holmfirth proved too strong.
The game looked to be Bank’s for the taking after two convincing tries in seven minutes.
But the derby date began to serve up some in-game brawls as penalties became a regular occurrence, provoking a sluggish style of play which suited the away side better.
But Underbank ran seven tries to Bramley’s two and climbed to joint-second in the league table.
Bank head coach Richard Knight (inset) knew a good start was key to getting the win.
He said: “We played it tough. It was always going to be who got off to the better start and we were the ones who started really well.
“They wanted to play a niggly game which didn’t suit us; with the penalty count at 18 it obviously meant it was a really slow game which suited them. But we stuck to our guns and we had some good individual performances.”
Rob Joyce quickly found a route through to the line where he released the supporting Usher who went over on two minutes.
Five minutes later a touch of class from Neil Barrett saw Bank extend their early lead as he re-gathered his own chip through on the sixth tackle, where he offloaded to Alex Chatterton who released St Hilaire to touch down.
But as the penalty count started to rise, the game began to slow, and it wasn’t until the half hour mark when the next score came. Craig Lovelock’s grubber kick finally opened the space for Al-Rawi to get in behind the stubborn Bank defence and touch down.
Allette and Ryder made sure Bank held a healthy lead at the break as both powered over to make it 20-6.
It was Lovelock’s boot again that created a route back into the game for the Leeds-based side as Fontaine raced onto his well-directed kick, with Sid Lindsay’s conversion cutting the margin.
But as the away fans tried to sing-up another Bramley try, Ryder was at hand to silence the choir once again. Briggs’ 20-yard break provided the space for Craig Williams to release him.
St Hilaire then killed any hopes of a late come back as he easily danced through three opposing defenders and waltzed in under the sticks.
Now Knight faces a turnaround before facing Nottingham Outlaws at The Cross tomorrow.
“It will be tough against Nottingham because we will have played three games in seven days and we have a few battered and bruised bodies,” said Knight.
“We have only got a quick turnaround now and the lads still have to go to work but we need to keep winning to keep the pressure on Warrington and Hemel at the top.”
Knight knows that Outlaws imitate Bank’s style of play and throw the ball around well.
“We know that Nottingham like to play a bit of footie, as do we, so they will test us more defensively and we will have to be on our guard,” he said. “But I will back our lads, we have been really strong defensively and I still don’t think we have clicked attacking wise. Once we can get back on the training field, with some space in between games, then we should go well.”
Dave Valentine and Kris Harrop return.