ARL: Normanton Knights’ play-off hopes are dashed in defeat to Rangers
Normanton Knights were left stunned as they fell at the first hurdle in the National Conference play-offs.
After finishing top of League E they were confident of a good run in the end of season competition to decide the overall champions, but opponents Underbank Rangers beat them 32-22 and could be emerging as dark horses for the NCL title.
The Holmfirth outfit only qualified for the play-offs thanks to a late run of results, including winning 22-18 at Featherstone Lions in the last regular fixture despite only fielding 12 players.
They quickly showed they meant business at Normanton, opening up a 14-4 lead midway through the first half through tries by Jordan Grout, Alex Chatterton and Owen Restall.
The Knights, who had opened with a Charlie Barker touchdown, roared back, however, to lead 19-16 at the break as Adam Biscomb and Barker crossed for tries and the latter added both conversions as well as a penalty.
With Jacob Crossland also landing a drop-goal they looked to have established a vital lead with the second 40 to go. But Jamie Kelly got Underbank back in front with a try immediately on the resumption.
Back came Normanton again with Barker kicking a penalty and Crossland popping over a second field goal to regain the advantage at 22-20. However, yellow cards for Crossland, on 58 minutes, for dissent, and Adam Biscomb for a high tackle, 10 minutes from time proved costly.
With the latter off Kelly and Chatterton raced over for tries with Richard Pogson completing a four-goal contribution.
Normanton’s season is not yet over as they go into the Conference Shield competition now and will host Rochdale Mayfield in the first round this Saturday.
Sharlston Rovers were edged out in a closely contest Yorkshire Men’s League match at Division One title contenders Fryston Warriors.
Despite tries by Lee Dutson (two), Stephen Garfitt, Yemi George and Ryan Butterworth and goals from Kyle Dutson (two) and Lee Bettinson the Rovers went down 30-26 and will finish in fifth place.
Westgate Common will be crowned Division One champions if they beat third-placed King Cross this Saturday (3.30pm).
Crigglestone All Blacks lost 44-18 away to Kippax & Swillington Miners in Division Four.
Eastmoor Dragons’ second team were in winning form in Division Five North as they edged out Birstall Victoria 28-26 to move up to fifth place.
Alfie Goddard, James Bell, Jason Roberts, Thomas Broom and Tom Wrigglesworth all crossed for tries with Daniel Johnson kicking four goals.
Stanley Rangers came out on top 36-32 in a high scoring local derby with Westgate Common A to stay top of Division Five North.