IT'S NOT often a coach can reflect on a performance where his side scored 19 tries and 13 conversions in a competitive league fixture!
But that is what Ritchie Hawkyard was able to do after Underbank Rangers secured an emphatic 102-2 win against East Lancashire Lions at The Cross.
The result moved the Holmfirth-based club up into fifth position in the Conference National table.
And a pleased Hawkyard said: “It was almost a perfect performance.”
The win was only Rangers’ third this season, and the 22-year-old added: “It was a result we needed to get everyone’s confidence up.
“I’m pleased it has pushed us up the league. I would now like to close the points gap between ourselves and those above us.”
Despite the final score it was the visitors who made the best start, taking the lead in the first minute with a Tom Handforth penalty.
But for the Lions, who sit in 10th position in the 10-team League after 12 successive defeats, these were their only points in a game dominated by the hosts.
Man-of-the-match John Birt, who returned to action after an injury, and was named Rangers’ best forward last season, scored the first of his four tries after seven minutes.
And he didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity to contribute four points.
Birt’s pace, combined with his ability to deceive the Lions’ defence, enabled him to complete his hat-trick of tries after 29 minutes and a fourth early in the second half.
Richard Flooks, whose 13 successful conversions were instrumental in Rangers’ win, also touched down.
Flooks gathered a superb cross-field pass from Darren Hawkyard and crossed the line, adding his name to the list of 11 separate Underbank tryscorers.
Chris Beal capitalised on a Lions’ handling error and touched down after 32 minutes.
And his effort was followed by a try apiece for Carl Leach and Brook York, helping Rangers to a 36-2 half-time advantage.
Rangers, unwilling to settle with the comfortable lead they had already achieved, continued to mount pressure on their opponents.
After 43 minutes substitute Pete Williams made a fine breakaway from the challenge of Lions players and spotted the supporting Carl Leach nearby.
Williams supplied a pass to Leach who then scored his second try of the afternoon.
Tries for debutant Nathan Shaw (2), Chris Beal; Will Midgley, Brook York, Luke Karolczuk, Darren Hawkyard (2), Lee St Hilaire and Matt Lodge sealed the convincing Underbank win.
Hawkyard said he was pleased Birt was awarded with the man-of-the-match prize. Birt is set to play for England Lionhearts on Saturday in their game against Wales.
“We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up and this result should prepare us for them,” added Hawkyard.