Rugby League: Thatto Heath 30 - 24 Mayfield
Date published: 11 March 2019
Cameron Connolly on his way to scoring
Mayfield bowed out of the Coral Challenge Cup in St Helens on Saturday despite a valiant attempt to overturn their hosts. The Rochdale side were up against it from the start after an early penalty gave Thatto the chance to push forward and take a 6 - 0 lead.
Mayfield came straight back at them and were unlucky as Callum Marriott was held up over the line. Again, a penalty allowed Thatto up field to pressure the Mayfield line and only good work from Munya Samanyanga and Lewis Butterworth kept them out. It wasn’t long though before more penalties cost Mayfield dearly as they surrendered position with back to back infringements Thatto showed their pedigree as they capitalised and went over in the corner to make it 10 - 0.
The restart went out on the full putting Mayfield under more pressure. They responded well with Lewis Sheridan and Wayne English combining to force an error. With possession Mayfield looked strong and they were unlucky not to score from a Zac Hartley kick through.
Thatto's response to Mayfield was to up the physicality and the big second row took it too far, catching Cole Connolly with an elbow that resulted in his dismissal.
Dec Sheridan took advantage as Thatto reorganised and found the gap to put Zac Baker in for their first try, 10 - 4. Mayfield had a strong spell with Jimmy Connaughton and Mark Biggins working overtime. A long ball from Hartley found Baker who in turn timed a great ball to Jack McConnachie who went in to make the score 10 - 8.
Mayfield were looking strong until Thatto kicked a forty-twenty, English reacted badly and kicked the ball away resulting in a sin binning. Thatto worked the ball from the penalty and went over in the corner on the stroke of half time. The scrum half added two points with a brilliant conversion, 16 - 8. All three tries in the game came from penalties.
Mayfield’s bad luck continued in the second half as they lost the ball from the restart and the home side took control of the game running in three unanswered tries in the first twenty minutes of the half taking the score to 30 – 8.
Mayfield looked down and out but captain Lewis Sheridan had other ideas he, along with brother Dec orchestrated a fight back. Both sides were battling for supremacy now and Mayfield’s forwards were coming more into the game with Hargreaves taking the ball straight and hard at the Thatto line time after time. A long pass from Lewis Sheridan to Baker saw Baker put Hargreaves through the line for a well deserved try, Hartley added the two for 30 - 14 with twenty to go to rescue the game.
It was a revelation the way the team picked up their game and the Sheridan brothers were at the heart of everything. Dec put Lewis away on a break and he found Cameron Connolly in support who grabbed a great score on his comeback showing he still has the class to add something to this team. Hartley added two points for the conversion for 30 – 20.
The home fans had gone quiet now as the travelling Mayfield fans raised the volume and their side raised the tempo to match. Again, and again the halfs tried to find the opening and the forwards battered away at the Thatto line. Hargreaves, Gleeson, Marriott, Biggins, Whalley, Baker were all worthy of mention as they gave everything to try and win the game.
A penalty against Dec Sheridan allowed Hartley to gain ground with the kick and from the tap Dec found Cameron Connolly who timed his pass to English perfectly and 'The Bolt from Kirkholt' as he was christened, sliced through for the final score. The conversion was missed, and the score finished at 30 - 24.
The Thatto coach commented that had the game gone on for another five minutes he felt Mayfield would have taken the spoils but it didn’t and Thatto progressed to the fourth round of this prestigious competition and Mayfield were left to ponder what might have been.
This was a somewhat patchy performance from Mayfield and had they played the full eighty minutes with the smartness and the intensity they showed in the final twenty they would probably have won this game. Sam Butterworth and Steve Wood were magnanimous in defeat and left knowing that there is so much more to come from this team and they can't wait for the league fixtures to resume next week with the visit of Egremont.
Gleeson, Connaughton, Lewis Sheridan and English were all mentioned by the Thatto coach but they awarded the Man of the Match to Dec Sheridan after a livewire showing. Mayfield Chairman Simon Howe said: “Although we lost, we performed well and showed we can compete with the best in the division. I am proud of the lads and the way they conducted themselves. I would also like to thank the large number of supporters who made the trip to support us, it makes a difference to the team to know that they are there cheering them on and if they all come to Mayfield on Saturday to see us play Egremont the atmosphere will be electric.”
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