Pennine League Championship Division: Brighouse Rangers 34 Sharlston Rovers 22

TWO vital tries each side of the interval from hooker Andy Esmond guaranteed Brighouse Rangers a splendid 34-22 home victory against Sharlston Rovers in their Pennine League Championship Division clash at Russell Way.

The Wakefield visitors opened the scoring straight from the kick-off when centre Chris Shaw crossed unopposed in the corner, but they lost the ball from the restart and Rangers took full advantage to send centre Richie McGlade sailing to the chalk, leaving full back Karl Frankland to slot the extras from the touchline.

The astute kicking game of scrum half Ben Drennan pinned Sharlston on the back foot, and a nifty offload from prop Terry Moon set up loose forward Jamie Barraclough to scoot over at the side of the posts, with Frankland again making no mistake with the boot.

Rovers centre Andy Gallagher crossed for a fortunate response from what looked to be a knock-on in the build-up, and he also added the extra two to narrow close the gap to 12-10.

A flurry of sharp passes put interchange Sam Hardcastle en route to the whitewash, and Frankland missed his only conversion of the match before the best touchdown of an enthralling encounter came on the stroke of half-time, when Esmond raced into a gap and side-stepped the full back to gallop under the posts.

Brighouse looked to be cruising when Esmond spun out of three tackles to plant the ball over the line on the restart, but Sharlston showed their class when second-row forward Sam Hawkins took the ball on the bang to cross in style, and prop Kyle Littlewood followed his example when he barged over shortly afterwards.

Hawkins, who had the bit between his teeth, set up a try for substitute packman Ash Hill after a smart offload in heavy traffic, and the hosts looked vulnerable at 28-22 with 20 minutes to go.

However, Rangers regained their poise with a mixture of patience and hard graft, which paid off when they were awarded a penalty deep in the Sharlston red zone.

They decided to tap and run, leaving Hardcastle to power over for his brace to cap a splendid triumph.