Sharlston Rovers edge out Queens to be crowned Pennine League champions

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Sharlston Rovers continued their all-conquering campaign by lifting the Pennine League Premier Division title thanks to a 28-25 victory at old foes Queens on Saturday.

The Weeland Road club went into the crucial clash with three trophies from three already in the trophy cabinet and they sealed a fourth with victory against title-challenging Queens in a close-fought match.

Rovers trailed 25-10 at one point but finished well with Gareth Davies scoring what turned out to be the winning try seven minutes from time.

The Leeds club were still in with a chance of snatching top-spot from Rovers but needed to win the match by more than 28 points and hope Hunslet Old Boys took points off Sharlston in their next match.

Sharlston were without Ryan Mallinder, who has been on trial with York City Knights and impressed enough to warrant a place in York’s squad for their National Rail Cup loss against Doncaster on Sunday. Wayne McHugh was also absent.

Queens have struggled for numbers in the latter part of the season and did not have a replacement bench for the game, perhaps leading to the visitors underestimating the threat of their hosts.

It resulted in Queens catching Sharlston cold early on, taking advantage of some poor defending to race into a 12-0 lead.

Danny Glassell replied for the visitors but Rovers failed to deal with the threat of James Brown, who was off-loading at will and put George Clarke in to see Queens regain their 12-point buffer.

Jackson finished off a superb break from Scott Glassell and Phil Hill to reduce the arrears but Chris Fletcher kept the scoreboard ticking over with a one-pointer to see Queens lead 19-10 at the break.

Sharlston’s hopes of getting the one point needed to clinch the title were dealt a blow at the start of the second half when Ryan Robinson went over the line to stretch the Queens lead.

Rovers showed plenty of desire to pick themselves up and get back into the game, however, with Tommy Crowther making an immediate impact from the bench when he broke the home line and off-load for Chris Aiton to power over the line.

Sharlston’s tails were up and with a lack of replacements for Queens, Rovers started to take control. Davies raced in for his first score two minutes later and Jackson’s conversion brought the visitors to within three points of their rivals.

Gordy Long’s men were pushing hard for the all-important try and had one chalked off in frustrating fashion with the minutes ticking over.

The title-winning try came seven minutes from time and Scott Glassell was the architect, changing directions and taking on the Queens line before unleashing Davies, who dummied his winger and went racing under the posts to spark scenes of celebration in the visiting camp.

Rovers face Hunslet Old Boys at Weeland Road on Saturday in their final league match of the season and will then turn their attentions to the BARLA National Cup final against Wibsey Warriors on Saturday, June 15.