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West Bowling take it to the Max in narrow defeat
West Bowling 24, Thornhill Trojans 30
Scrum half Max Trueman can count himself desperately unlucky to finish on the losing side as West Bowling narrowly missed out against Thornhill Trojans in a see-saw Pennine League mid-table Premier Division encounter at Emsley’s Recreation Ground.
Bowling made an impressive start when prop Connor Wood charged down the middle only to run out of support, while second-row forward Richard Lumb suffered a similar fate when he repeated the ploy shortly afterwards only to find himself isolated with the try line in sight.
The Trojans, who were also looking dangerous, were reduced in numbers when centre Adam Bird was sent to the sin-bin for unsolicited advice to the match official.
Bowling took full advantage of the extra man when Trueman threw out a long pass to put wingman Gavin Buckley over in the corner.
Full back Ben Heald added the touchline conversion – and was once again on target when Lumb powered his way to the whitewash following a sublime change of direction from Trueman.
At 12-0 up the hosts looked to be in command, until Thornhill stand-off Joel Gibson changed the game.
He hoisted a cross-kick to find wingman Mindaugas Bendikas in acres of space out wide for a clever touchdown, then put a short punt over the defence to collect and sprint 80 metres to the uprights.
A blatant forward pass saw the restored Bird charge up the touchline to reach the chalk, leaving Gibson to slot over his third conversion and put the Trojans into the sheds 18-12 up.
Bowling made a sluggish restart and fell further behind when scrum half Danny Ratcliffe collected what appeared to be an offside kick at the side of the posts, leaving Gibson a simple kick.
But Trueman again came up trumps when he completed a smart offload exchange with Lumb in a move straight from the training ground.
Heald added the extra two points and then showed acute awareness by positioning himself perfectly to collect an inside ball on the flanks to cut inside and touch down for a try which he converted himself.
At 24-24, a draw would have been a fair reflection of the play. But it was the visitors who struck the decisive blow when second-row forward Jake Ratcliffe burrowed over from a close-range play the ball and Gibson made sure of full reward to give the Dewsbury outfit the spoils.