Northern rail nines

Date published: Monday, July 19, 2010

WEAKENED by injury and placed in the strongest of the five pools, Roughyeds faced an enormous task in the Northern Rail Nines at Blackpool and subsequently slipped out of the competition after the first round of matches.

At the end of the pool games the 18 competing clubs were positioned, according to the points they had accumulated, in one composite league table and only the top four clubs advanced to the next stage.

Roughyeds, faced with three opponents from the Co-operative Championship, began well with a 14-14 draw against Barrow thanks to one goal and tries by Alistair Williams, Scott Mansfield and Danny Knight.

Next up they played a very strong Sheffield Eagles squad and were well beaten 40-0 by an Eagles side that mainly comprised first-team players.

In their third game they encountered Featherstone Rovers, this time going down 26-12 in a game in which several Roughyeds players, among them Ben Mellor, Ross Coates, Austen Barrowclough and Mark Smith, picked up injuries and had to leave the field.

The Roughyeds’ 12 points were recorded by Tommy Connick and Scott Mansfield, who each scored a try and then added the extras.

In the main the Roughyeds squad was made up of players from the reserve team, most of whom had played at Widnes on Thursday night, because of a spate of injuries affecting members of the first-team squad.

The club and its coaching and medical staff can now turn their attentions to getting senior players fully fit and ready for next Sunday’s vitally important Championship One clash with Blackpool Panthers at Fylde RU, which will go a long way towards determining final league placings at the upper end of the division.

Oldham currently lie second behind Hunslet Hawks with the Panthers tucked into third place.

In the words of coach Martin Crompton, Blackpool still believe they can finish top — to earn automatic promotion — if they can beat both Roughyeds and Hunslet on home soil in the next few weeks.

Roughyeds have a decent record so far this season in the battle of the top three, having won at Hunslet and beaten Blackpool at Whitebank, these victories coming either side of a heavy home defeat by the Hawks.

Panthers will be keen to avenge their 40-26 defeat at Whitebank in early June and Roughyeds will need to be at their best, no doubt supported by one of their biggest away followings of the season.