Birkenshaw 6 Illingworth 20

A classic touchdown from full back Ben Nabozny could not stop Birkenshaw falling to their first home defeat of the season in Champion-ship Division One.

Birky stated their intent against the league leaders by camping in their red zone straight from the off and launched a series of punishing raids, with prop forward Mickey Glenn to the fore.

The lightweight Halifax side competently dealt with all the pressure and used their lightning pace in the three-quarters to strike, only to pass the ball into touch with the line at their mercy.

The elusive first score was proving difficult to find and the Birkenshaw cause was not helped when packman Luke Hudson dropped the ball with a two-man overlap and centre Mark Nicholls then offloaded to the opposition to see another chance go begging.

Illingworth finally hit the front with a penalty from wingman Kieran Nicholson when the hosts were guilty of a high tackle and he was again bang on target for an identical infringement shortly afterwards.

Birky half-back Matt Honysett put a difficult kick wide shortly before the well-matched sides settled for a hard-fought interval break, with the visitors 4-0 to the good.

Birky hooker Callum Dinsdale saved the day when he tracked back to prevent a threatening move in his own red zone and produced more of the same with a clattering tackle that shook his opposite number Graham Dobson down to his boots.

The best try of the game came when Honysett scooped up from acting half and sold a simple dummy to break clear. He skilfully drew the full back, Luke Sutcliffe, before sending Nabozny tearing through the gap to sprint 50 metres under the posts and then added the extras for full reward.

The game ebbed and flowed until the hour mark, when visitors’ substitute Kevin Smith pounced on a bouncing kick, leaving Nicholls to add the extras.

The game was effectively put out of the hosts’ grasp when centre Liam Manning crossed the whitewash for another converted effort for a lead of 16-6.

Birky showed determined reluctance to surrender their unbeaten home run when leading try-scorer Damian Smith had to be bundled into touch by four defenders at the corner flag but it was the league leaders who had the last say when Nicholls collected a pass out of the back door for a try on the final play of the game.