UNDERBANK Rangers came within a whisker of causing another major Conference Challenge Trophy competition upset.
The Conference III outfit, who had already seen off higher division outfits in Elland and Leigh East, were only narrowly beaten 20-18 by National Conference League champions Wath Brow Hornets.
Wath Brow scored a heart-breaking try in the 78th minute to deny Rangers the glory, but it was an extremely impressive performance by Underbank.
Rangers coach Richard Knight was not too disheartened: “We proved that we shouldn’t be in Division III, we should be playing teams like Wath Brow every week.
“The game as a spectacle for rugby league was outstanding.
“Obviously I am disappointed, but I am also extremely proud, we can leave here with our heads held high.”
Bank’s early enthusiasm put unexpected pressure on Wath Brow and it was Michael Lang who managed to go over for a try in only the fourth minute of the game, and Neil Barrett converted.
The following quarter saw Rangers dominant in attack and they had at least five really good chances at getting over the line.
Unfortunately they had a number of attempts disallowed and the one chance Wath Brow got, they took it and came up with the try.
Wath Brow’s next try was a similar story and they started to prove why they are champions.
Bank came out for the second half with incredible determination and blitzed the home side with two tries in quick succession from Lee St Hilaire and another for Lang.
With an eight point lead Bank seemed confident but they ‘bombed’ a few more opportunities and Wath Brow pushed them all the way, managing to find the line again to take the scoreline to just two points difference.
In the dying minutes, a number of penalties put Wath Brow right on Bank’s line and they smashed over to score the winning try.
It was a heart-breaking moment for Bank who had worked so hard – and the Wath Brow coach later admitted the best team had lost.
It was a tough physical encounter and many of Bank’s players played their best game of the season so far. It will give them confidence to continue their fine form in the league.
Underbank Rangers: Hendrick, Noel, Chatterton, Lang, St Hilaire, Barrett, Usher, Blayden, Boothroyd, C Williams, Pawson, Adam, Harrop. Subs: Berry, J Williams, Allette, Horsfall.