Furness Raiders have a winning start to the season
Furness Raiders 33 : 16 Pontefract Titans
Furness Raiders began their 2017/18 England College League Premier Division campaign on Wednesday evening with a hard-fought, but ultimately convincing, win over New College Pontefract (Pontefract Titans) at Featherstone Rovers’ home ground.
Pontefract, last season’s runners up in this competition, started brightly but on nine minutes, Adam Ford finished smartly in the corner following some good play by the Raiders. Ford, one of seven new faces in the side, looked strong throughout and was always a danger.
The Raiders looked the better of two good sides but were struggling to hold the Titans’ players scooting through the middle and two converted tries by them (on 23 minutes and 33 minutes) gave the home side a handy 12-4 lead.
Undeterred, the Cumbrians (with just three players on the bench) dug deep and from that point on took control of the game. They were rewarded on 33 minutes when Ethan Bickerdike touched down following a superb kick through the defensive line by Jake Carter. Carter added the conversion and his side continued to build pressure for the remainder of the half. Titans last ditch defence was sound though and they went in at the interval 12-10 to the good.
Head Coach Joe Bullock’s half-time team talk was calm and the group spoke about the need to stop the smaller players on the Yorkshire side hitting through the middle. The message seemed to have got through and Furness scored an excellent try through Jake Stockdale (again improved by Carter) to take a deserved 16-12 lead.
However, five minutes later the Raiders’ defence once again switched off and on hour a surprise sixth tackle move saw the Titans go from half-way to level the game at 16-16. The chance to take the lead was spurned when the conversion was missed.
With 20 minutes remaining, it was anybody’s match but Joe Bullock’s careful rotation of his players saw the Raiders take complete control in the final quarter with all the forwards prominent in taking the side forward.
A superb run by Danny Wright on 67 minutes ended when he offloaded to the supporting Tyler Batty who crossed by the posts – Carter converting for a 22-16 lead. Complaints from the Yorkshire side saw a player sin-binned and from the restart the visitors worked their way back up the pitch and on the last tackle of the set, the calm Jake Carter dropped a goal to put his side two scores ahead with ten minutes to play. That was the final nail in the Titans’ coffin!
Three minutes later, Adam Ford grabbed a close range try out wide following good work by Tyler Lancaster. Carter missed the conversion but his side were now coasting at 27-16. Another sin-binning saw the Yorkshiremen reduced to 11 players and with almost the final play of the match Aiden Wright scored following good build up play. Carter added the goal for a final score of 33-16.
This was an excellent performance by the Raiders who were missing a number of senior players through injury and younger players through County commitments.
Danny Wright was the unanimous pick for Man of the Match but there were several contenders for this award.
Furness Raiders Team: Jake Stockdale, James Lashmar, Jonny Hutton, Tyler Lancaster, Adam Ford, Jake Carter, Ethan Bickerdike, Elliot Campbell, Aiden Wright, Tyler Batty, Ioan Hayes, Charlie Emslie, Danny Wright.
Subs (All Used): Alfie Thomas, Tyler Smith, Harry Higgins.
Man of the Match: Danny Wright.