Rugby League: Underbank 20 - 28 Mayfield
Date published: 04 March 2019
Zac Hartley slots one over from the touchline
In driving wind on a pitch that resembles the south slopes of the Himalayas Mayfield put in another good solid performance to earn themselves the spoils in this the opening Kingstone Press NCL premier division game of the season.
It certainly wasn't all plain sailing though as Mayfield were down to twelve men with less than ten minutes on the clock after the referee sin binned Cole Connolly for a swinging arm in the tackle.
The home side played the numerical advantage well, drawing Mayfield up the hill before throwing the ball back to the right where the big centre powered over for an unconverted try.
There was no panic from Mayfield though as they weathered the storm.
The Underbank lead didn't last long and again it was the powerful Mayfield pack who forced their way into the danger zone.
A penalty and quick play saw Zac Hartley put Jimmy Connaughton through for a try which Hartley duly converted to give his side the lead, a lead they never relinquished.
A great try saving tackle from Aidan Gleeson made sure his side stayed in front before Hartley slotted over a penalty.
Twenty minutes gone and Mayfield were stamping their authority on the game Liam Whalley was unlucky not to increase the lead, with the referee adjudging the final pass from Connolly to be forward.
It wasn't all Mayfield and only smart defence from Zac Baker, Callum Marriott and Shaun Earley kept Underbank out.
The home side know their pitch well and they also know how to play it using the hills and slopes to their advantage where ever possible, but Mayfield's defence was on top form as they repelled each attack forced the errors and then staged their own counter attacks.
A brilliant passage of play saw John Foy finish the move across the line with another Mayfield score and Hartley added a superb touch line conversion.
With the clock ticking down for half time Mayfield were awarded another penalty just inside their own half, looking at the clock coach Sam Butterworth opted for the two points and Hartley slotted it right between the sticks to once again show what an asset he is becoming to this side.
Underbank and the crowd thought the half was more or less up, not Mayfield though as they again forced their way upfield and up popped Hartley onto a neat pass from Whalley to scythe through the gap and touch down under the sticks, the conversion a formality in his current form.
The home coach must have read the riot act at half time because his side came out really strongly for the second half immediately putting Mayfield under sustained pressure.
Again, it took a massive effort in defence from Mark Biggins, Nick Hargreaves and Munya Samanyanga.
Mayfield then paid the price for more indiscipline with Whalley the transgressor this time, ten minutes in the bin again increased the workload on an already tiring Mayfield outfit and the Underbank half backs sensed this, moving the ball and speeding up the pace of the game.
Again, while Mayfield were a man down Underbank managed to cross the line pulling the score back to 10 - 22.
The home side were now sensing a comeback and Mayfield were lucky as they dropped the ball twice over the Mayfield line.
In the end the pressure was too much and Underbank scored again after a long period of pressure.
This could have been one that got away from Mayfield but for Samanyanga making two try saving tackles on the trot to deny first the centre then the winger who looked odds on to score in the corner.
With just minutes to go Mayfield effectively sealed the game with a well taken score from Zac Baker who squeezed in at the corner after a neat kick through from Gleeson, Hartley was again sublime with the boot.
Underbank again showed they will be a team to be reckoned with this season as they forced their way to the Mayfield danger zone before the stand-off coasted through for the final try of the game.
This was a solid performance from Sam Butterworth and Steve Woods' side and their third away victory on the bounce, all against premier division opposition.
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