UNDERBANK Rangers crashed to their second successive defeat of the new Conference National season as they were beaten 28-22 at home to Liverpool Buccaneers.
It was a bitterly disappointing way to open their home campaign and came on the back of their 38-26 opening-day defeat at Hemel Stags the week before.
The two results are a major blow for the club, whose joint head coach, Ritchie Hawkyard, said he thought the side would have a successful season this year.
Speaking last month, former Bradford Bulls scrum half Hawkyard said: “Anything less than a semi-final in the end-of-season play-offs would be a disappointment.”
But with two games played, Rangers now sit in eighth position in the 10-club league after the defeat to Liverpool.
The Buccaneers are a new side in the competition, made up of ex-students and rugby union players from the Merseyside area, and Rangers would have been confident of success.
However, with several senior members of their side still involved in winter campaigns, they were left to reflect on a day of bitter disappointment.
Underbank got off to the perfect start with Napoleoni Vinaka crossing for a try after a minute, but then the contest became a major source of frustration.
Besides the Buccaneers quickly hitting back to take the lead, Rangers also lost prop Carl Leach for 10 minutes due to persistent offside – and that about summed up their day!
Yet it was only a try from James Lacey with nine minutes remaining that finally sealed the home side’s fate as Underbank stayed in the hunt.
Their challenge was led by Vinaka, who finished with two tries, while there were also scores for Matt Garside and Lee St Hilaire and three John Birt goals.