Woolston Rovers 30 Rylands Sharks 12

WOOLSTON Rovers progressedto the Warrington Carlsberg Cup Final when they defeated Rylands Sharks in a hard-fought physical semi-final encounter at Monks Sports Club.

Rovers will face Bank Quay Bulls or Crosfields in the final.

The semi final looked as though it may not take place with the appointed match referee failing to turn up but Rylands substitute Tony Fretwell, a qualified referee, bravely agreed to take charge of the game with the approval of both clubs and performed the task with great honesty and skill in what was a tough situation for him.

Rylands opened the scoring in the third minute with a penalty goal from stand-off Jack Lewis after Rovers had been guilty of ball-stealing but three minutes later the home side went ahead when two strong drives from loose forward Chris Mellor punched holes in the Sharks’ defence and that allowed stand-off Gavin Bishop to put centre Chris Brown through a gap and he found second row Sean Conway in support and he rounded the full back to score on the right.

Bishop added the conversion.

Rovers stretched their advantage on twelve minutes when a strong run from Tom Keevil split the Rylands defence and a quick play the ball saw scrum half Billy Maunder shoot from dummy half to score in the left corner.

Bishop converted from the touchline but then five minutes before the break the visitors hit back when fine work from substitute Jack Lipton saw him give a short ball to prop forward Sam Hughes who powered over on the right.

Two minutes before the break a great ball down the blind side from Rovers substitute Phil Stevens found full back Christian Taylor lurking on the wing and he raced over on the right.

Bishop goaled to make the half time score 18-6 in Rovers favour.

Nine minutes into the second half the never-say-die attitude of the resilient Rylands’ side shone through once again when the impressive Hughes went from the base of a scrum and raced forty metres unopposed to score his second try under the posts.

Lewis converted to narrow the gap to just six points but with eleven minutes left on the clock Rovers managed to pull clear once again when Keevil broke through the line to score on the left and Bishop added the conversion.

Right on the final whistle Rovers rubbed salt into the Sharks’ wounds when a clever chip through on the last tackle by Maunder bounced awkwardly in the in-goal area and second row Danny Brown was first to react to pounce on the loose ball and score on the left. Bishop converted.

Man of the match was awarded to Rovers’ centre Tom Keevil.

He was very well supported by fellow centre Chris Brown and for Rylands prop forward Sam Hughes was the stand-out performer along with stand-off Jack Lewis.

Rovers: Christian Taylor; Lewis Stockton, Tom Keevil, Chris Brown, Sam Wood; Gavin Bishop, Billy Maunder; Andy Addison, Wez Lawton, Bobby McGregor, Danny Brown, Sean Conway, Chris Mellor. Subs: Scott Whiteley, Mike Ward, Phil Stevens, Ian Ward.

Sharks: Luke Walker; Danny Hoyland, Carl Lloyd, Jack Hancock, Aaron Holliday; Jack Lewis, Peter Leonard; Sam Hughes, Louis Walsh, Matty Burns, Lewis Litherland, Matt Wilson, Matt Taylor. Subs: Jack Lipton, Jack Sherratt, Rob Campbell, Mike Lagar.