SIX defeats in 10 League games. This is the worrying story of Underbank’s season so far in the Conference National.
Rangers fell to a 16-14 defeat at Liverpool Buccaneers on Saturday, with the result meaning the Merseyside team secured a double success over Underbank in the 2008 campaign.
Liverpool ran out 28-22 winners at The Cross in April.
Disappointed Rangers coach Ritchie Hawkyard, reflecting on the defeat at the weekend, said: “It was one of our worst performances of the season.
“We now have a game against Warrington Wizards on Saturday where we have to improve.”
The Holmfirth-based club dropped to seventh place in the league table after the defeat.
In a game where little separated the sides in terms of ability, both were guilty of making a number of handling errors.
Liverpool started the brightest and took the lead after only two minutes.
Mark Forber placed a kicked beyond the Rangers defence which James Lacey ran onto, judged the bounce of the ball well and touched down. Ian Stanley converted.
But 11 minutes later Underbank clawed their way back with Simon Burkinshaw sprinting from 20m out to score on his debut. Paul Lord added the kick.
Lacey once again gave the hosts a narrow lead shortly after by scoring a well-worked try, showing fine footwork to slalom his way through the Rangers defence.
On 32 minutes full-back Brook York helped the visitors go into the half-time break on level terms.
York made full use of his side’s man advantage following an injury to Liverpool winger Jamie Hammond. Underbank’s Kiwi dashed down the vacant wing to touch down. Paul Lord converted.
Despite a penalty conversion by Lord on the hour mark, Ben Toleman, positioned out wide, managed to avoid going into touch and sneaked across for the hosts’ winning try on 71 minutes.
The result was Liverpool’s first victory in five games, while Underbank failed to build on their impressive 72-6 thrashing of Hemel 17 days ago – only their second win this year.
This time last season Rangers, who had suffered fewer defeats than in this campaign, looked to claim a fourth consecutive victory after wins against Leeds Academiks, Hemel and Gateshead Storm.
The run helped them jump into fourth position in the league table, and how Hawkyard would love a run like that now!
Before the season started the 22-year-old Swinton Lions stand-off hoped Rangers would reach the play-off final this September.
And he said anything less than a place in the semi-finals would be a big disappointment.
But Hawkyard, despite his side’s poor form, remains confident they will still be successful in the play-offs.
“I still think we can get to the semis. We have never been far off from winning the games which we have lost this season,” he added.
“Nobody turned up to the game on Saturday with the right attitude. But we need to put that result behind us and start from scratch.
“It has been difficult for us so far in the sense we have not had a settled team every week. We have had to swap and change the side a lot.
“We definitely need to approach every game like a final from now on to achieve what we want.”