Rams edge Toulouse in thriller + Championship Shield reports

Dewsbury Rams 36-34 Toulouse Olympique – Dewsbury Rams defeated Toulouse Olympique 36-34 at the Tetley’s Stadium thanks to a last-gasp penalty goal from James Glover. Paul Marcon scored a hat-trick for Toulouse but that proved to be in vain as the in-form Rams found a way to win, as their habit of coming out on top in matches continues!

The first try of the contest came after nine minutes and it went to the hosts. Gareth Moore was the architect as he laid on a try for prop forward Jode Sheriffe. Paul Sykes added the extras and Dewsbury were on the board. Marcon replied with a four-pointer of his own for the French club, who couldn’t draw level with the hosts as Mark Kheirallah’s conversion attempt was off target. Neil Kelly’s side responded brilliantly and in quick time too as Glover touched down underneath the posts to extend the lead. Sykes converted for a 12-4 advantage. The back-and-forth nature of the scoring kept going as Stan Robin cut the deficit by touching down after breaking through the defence. A forward pass from the Rams a couple of minutes earlier invited pressure and the half-back capitalised. Kheirallah converted and the kicking tee was back out again shortly after as Toulouse took the lead for the first time. The ball was kicked into the in-goal area and Dewsbury couldn’t deal with it which allowed Kuni Minga to apply the downward pressure. Kheirallah missed the conversion. But it was Dewsbury who went into the half-time break ahead thanks to a try from their own Frenchman. Mickael Goudemand got off the mark for the Rams with his first score in Dewsbury colours. Sykes made it 18-14 at the break with the conversion.

Three tries in the opening nine minutes made for a frantic start to the second half. Dom Speakman found his way past the Toulouse rearguard as he crossed the whitewash. Sykes converted but Olympique answered back with two unconverted tries. Gavin Marguerite and Marcon both touched down as the visitors moved to within two points of the West Yorkshire club. With the final quarter fast approaching, Toulouse edged in front thanks to Marcon’s hat-trick try. Kheirallah added the two points from the tee. Robbie Ward and Bastien Canet exchanged tries as Toulouse stayed in the driving seat until two minutes from time when Toby Adamson levelled matters. Sykes had the first chance to win it for the Rams but his conversion strayed wide but there was another golden opportunity to come. Ward and Canet both saw yellow before the game restarted again and after it did, Dewsbury won a penalty on halfway and Glover stepped up to take the kick. The centre had nerves of steel as he struck the ball in-between the sticks for a superb victory.

Oldham 16-20 Bradford Bulls – They’re already relegated but Bradford Bulls are still wanting to make life hard for their fellow Championship Shield competitors. The Bulls beat relegation-threatened Oldham 20-16 at Bower Fold despite being 20-6 up at the break. A scoreless second half from the West Yorkshire club almost cost them but they managed to sneak home as Geoff Toovey’s men finally moved off the zero points mark.

Seven minutes in came the first try of the afternoon as young winger Josh Rickett latched on to a Joe Keyes pass to score. Lee Smith couldn’t convert but the Bulls were ahead to the delight of the travelling faithful. Things got better soon after for the visitors thanks to the experienced Scott Moore. The former NRL hooker found his way to the whitewash from dummy-half, the try doubling Bradford’s advantage until Smith added the extras. Two tries in quick succession from Bradford almost put the game to bed as early as the 20th minute. St Helens-bound James Bentley improved his fine try tally for the season following a Keyes’ high kick. Sam Hallas, Bentley and Cory Aston all combined for the next score as the latter crossed the chalk. The first conversion was unsuccessful but the second from Aston was on target. Jack Spencer replied with Oldham’s first try of the game. A nice offload made its way to Spencer who exploited the space it created. Luke Hooley converted for 20-6.

On the 43rd minute, Danny Grimshaw cut the deficit further for the Roughyeds who looked revitalised. Hooley couldn’t convert. Soon after, the ever-impressive Michael Ward touched down and it was well and truly game on following Hooley’s two points. It was a tight second half but Bradford managed to see out the victory.

Rochdale Hornets 14-34 Batley Bulldogs – A rather interesting match at the Crown Oil Arena. At one point in the second half, Rochdale had ten men on the field and Batley had 12. The Bulldogs had too much for the Hornets with Alex Bretherton and Dave Scott notching braces for the West Yorkshire side.

Jake Eccleston opened the scoring for Rochdale after eight minutes following passes from Lewis Foster and Josh Crowley. Danny Yates couldn’t convert but he made amends by kicking a penalty goal soon after. Scott got the Bulldogs on the board as he put on some nice footwork to get over the whitewash. Pat Walker added the extras to level the game at 6-6. Kevin Penny and Shaun Ainscough swapped scores for Rochdale and Batley respectively. The visitors’ conversion attempt was successful while the Hornets’ wasn’t, leaving Matt Diskin’s side 12-10 in front at the break.

Bretherton took to the air for his first try of the game after the restart. The acrobatics paid off as Batley went two scores ahead thanks to the conversion. Soon after, Batley extended their lead through Jason Crookes who was then sent off for a melee with Gary Middlehurst. Rochdale hooker Ben Moores was also sin-binned as the game started to collect more cards than Clintons. Jordan Case was next in the sin-bin for Rochdale but despite only having ten men, they did get on the scoresheet as Chris Riley made a break which was supported by Yates who touched down. Lewis Foster couldn’t convert but the game was still nicely balanced at 22-14 to Batley. Bretherton and Scott rounded off the afternoon with a try apiece, completing their braces and sealing victory for Batley.

Swinton Lions 30-32 Sheffield Eagles – Sheffield Eagles beat Swinton Lions for a fourth time in 2017, once again in nail-biting circumstances at Heywood Road. The Eagles triumphed 32-30 thanks to braces from Ben Blackmore and Elliot Minchella. Swinton had a penalty with 20 seconds to go but Blackmore’s acrobatics kept the ball in field and that sealed a hard-fought victory. The two competition points also confirm the Eagles’ Championship status for another year.

It was the Lions who got on the board first. Debutant Ilias Bergas, who looked lively all afternoon, stepped past the Sheffield defence to touch down. Chris Hankinson added the extras. It didn’t take long for the Eagles to respond though as Minchella flung a superb pass out to the wing for Blackmore to capitalise on. Jack Owens couldn’t convert. Minchella was the one to put Sheffield in front for the first time in the match as he picked up the pieces after Paddy Flynn forced a knock-on. Owens misfired the conversion. In the 26th minute, Sheffield went two scores ahead as the visitors scored a marvellous team try. Blackmore played Flynn down the wing with a backhanded offload and the former Cas and Widnes flyer rounded the full-back. Owens converted for a 14-6 lead. Jack Murphy and Menzie Yere exchanged tries in the latter stages of the first half but there was time for one more score as Rob Lever powered over. Hankinson was on hand to cut his side’s deficit to 20-18 at the break.

A slow start to the second half from the Eagles proved costly as Lever completed his brace with Swinton going back into the driving seat. Hankinson on target once again from the tee. Sheffield responded through Minchella who got on the end of a Jack Owens grubber. Owens added the extras for 26-24 to the steel city club. With eight minutes to go, Swinton knocked on inside Sheffield’s half and the aftermath was devastating for the hosts. Flynn’s quick reaction to play Blackmore down the wing worked a treat as the winger ran 65 metres to the whitewash. Owens struck a sweet conversion from the touchline to extend the advantage to two scores. With four minutes remaining, Swinton half-back Ben White got to the try-line to set up a nervy finish. Hankinson made it 32-30 and the Lions soon won a penalty to move deep into Eagles territory. However, Blackmore provided some superb acrobatics to stop the ball sailing into touch and the win belonged to Sheffield.