Sharlston Rovers vow to learn from final experience after BARLA National Cup defeat to Waterhead Warriors

Sharlston Rovers’ fantastic run in the BARLA National Cup ended in disappointment as they were well beaten by Waterhead Warriors in the final played at Featherstone Rovers’ ground.

By Tony Harber
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 10:00 am
Sharlston Rovers lost out in the BARLA National Cup final when they took National Conference League opposition.
Sharlston Rovers lost out in the BARLA National Cup final when they took National Conference League opposition.

National Conference League side Warriors lifted the cup on their first appearance in the decider, in some style, beating a Rovers outfit that had itself appeared in five deciders between 2010 and 2015 by a 42-0 margin that did not tell the full story of the match.

The higher intensity of playing regularly in the Conference competition was probably a factor in the result with Sharlston currently in a rebuilding phase in the Yorkshire Men’s League Division One.

They offered some resistance in the opening quarter and, with player-coach Ady Mulcahy and captain Jorge Richardson effective at half-back, forced a couple of early goal-line drop-outs to force their opponents into some serious defending.

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But Rovers were unable to apply further serious pressure as the game wore on.

After the game Mulcahy said: “The Warriors play at a much higher standard and it told, especially with their ex-professionals back.

“We struggled to match their pace, but we will learn from this and we plan to be back!”

Waterhead coach Jon Perks said: “We weathered the early storm, took our chances, and showed that we have plenty of ability in the side.

“Two tries before half-time, when we turned an eight-point lead into an 18-point advantage, were important, it was then a matter of seeing the second half out.”

The Oldham outfit went in front in the fourth minute, Tom Keaveny Award man of the match Bridge linking with Owen and Jenson Hamilton to send Evan Campbell in at the corner.

Twenty minutes later, and after having survived the two goal-line drop-outs, Waterhead scored an equally classy try on the other flank, Danny Bridge, Gaz Owen and Matthew Holland giving Mason Young the chance to dive over.

The Warriors took a real grip when, five minutes before the break, Bridge collected an Owen grubber and Owen was there to scoot over from a smart inside ball, Kegan Brennan landing the first of his four goals.

That touchdown was followed immediately by a sparkling effort by Hamilton who sidestepped through from 15 metres after fine work by Bridge and Owen to take the lead out to 18-0.

Phil Joy crashed in eight minutes after the restart. Rovers briefly threatened to hit back, but after the ball had gone dead when Richardson chased a Mulcahy kick, it was the Warriors back on attack again as Hamilton grabbed his second try on the hour, again finding a gap after Bridge and Brennan had linked.

Martin Sarsfield powered over seven minutes from time and the buoyant Waterhead contingent in the main stand entered celebration mode when Owen put Jake O’Grady over with a telling inside ball.

Warriors: Jenson Hamilton; Evan Campbell, Ciaran Dean, Matthew Holland, Mason Young; Gareth Owen, Kegan Brennan; Phil Joy, James Perks, Andy Joy, Mitchell Birch, Niall Dunnington-Wallace, Danny Bridge. Subs: Harry Maders, Jake O’Grady, Martin Sarsfield, Dale Lowe.

Tries: Campbell (4), Young (24), Owen (37), Hamilton (39, 60), P Joy (48), Sarsfield (73), O’Grady (76). Goals: Brennan 5/8.

Rovers: Ryan Butterworth; Josh Beecher, Yemi George, Michael Williams, Pat Harrison;, Jorge Richardson, Adrian Mulcahy; Gary Smith, Andy Gallagher, Eddie Medforth, Brendon Gibbins, Liam Kendal, Sean Markey. Subs: Michael Firth, Kyle Littlewood, Ben Lyons, Joey Nowicki.