Wyke 8 Methley Royals 26

Wyke fell to a gutsy defeat after a bright start against Methley Royals in the semi-final of the Andrew Bennett Trophy at Towngate.

The black and whites went ahead with a James Dewhirst penalty before the visitors’ defence was tested to the full as Methley attacked in numbers.

The Royals’ former Featherstone Rovers stand-off Matty Handforth brought relief when he was shown a yellow card for dissent but all the Wyke hard work was rewarded when a simple switch offload near the sticks enabled second row forward Ian Wormald the chance to plant the ball on the whitewash, leaving Dewhirst to add the extras.

At 8-0 in front, Wyke’s tails were up and they were only denied a further touchdown when centre Curtis Kent was prevented from grounding the ball by a desperate tackle from wingman Lee Mapals following a high bomb under the posts.

The back-to-full-strength Royals reduced the arrears when hooker Chris Ward fed loose forward Lee Starbuck from the ruck and centre Sam Payne converted.

The Royals then took the lead when they created two drives to suck in the home defence and shipped the ball through four sets of hands to put Payne galloping over in the corner. He was successful with the touchline conversion, enabling Methley to change ends 12-8 up.

Wyke suffered a blow on the restart when lively hooker Adie Docherty had to leave the fray after being flattened by a head-high shot as the rugged Royals pack set about their task with gusto and it came as no surprise when their chief enforcer Dean Tucker was sent to the sin-bin following another haymaker.

A clever Wormald offload to stand-off Ian Watkinson forced a goal-line drop-out as the hosts strove to equalise but it was the visitors who struck again when weight and bulk proved the key with a try from prop forward Jake Turner and Payne was again on target. Wyke’s belligerent defence was superb, with their lionhearted prop Simon Owen setting the standard and the Royals again escaped with only a penalty awarded against them when packman Warren Pitman was the victim of a high shot which prevented a certain try.

Substitute Lewis Morris kept up the black and whites’ resolve but it was the Royals who had the final say with a converted last-minute six-pointer to reach the final with a lopsided scoreline.