Thornhill Trojans’ run in the BARLA National Cup came to a muddy end in Widnes as they suffered a 16-4 defeat at St Maries.
Johnny Leather proved to be Thornhill’s tormentor as he took advantage of the visitors’ bad luck to register a hat-trick of tries.
The turning point came on the hour mark when Leather slid in at the corner for his second try.
Thornhill appealed for an initial offside from Leather but then were up in arms as he appeared to have been bundled into touch.
The referee waved away Thornhill’s protests and the try stood. It proved a real body blow for the Trojans in such a closely contested game.
The Trojans started the game playing down the prominent Widnes slope.
The muddy narrow field was not suited to expansive rugby, although Danny Ratlciffe and Jake Wilson tried to be creative.
Thornhill’s best chance in the opening exchanges came when Sam Ratcliffe burst away to sprint down the wing but was bundled into touch.
The weather proved to be a great leveller as the hail stones came down in the cold, swirling wind.
The Vikings battled their way up the slope and on last tackle, gave the ball a hefty boot towards the Thornhill line.
Trojans winger Mindaugas Bendikas appeared to have the situation under control and moved in to collect the ball low down but as he looked to run the ball away from his own line, he was tackled and the ball went loose.
Leather pounced to score the opening try and David Dourley converted.
Both teams continued to battle in the mud and on the stroke of half-time Thornhill finally made the slope work in the favour.
From a penalty the ball was flung along the attacking line in a slick passing move.
Tom Ripley created space in the corner to go over for an unconverted try.
Trailing by only two points, the Trojans set about tackling the slope as the second half got underway.
But it was the Vikings who used the slope well and kept Thornhill pinned in their own half.
A long range penalty goal attempt from Joel Gibson blew wide of the mark.
Tempers threatened to boil over following Leather’s controversial second try.
As Gibson placed the ball on the halfway line for the restart, he was shown the yellow card.
The game was effectively ended as a contest when Leather stepped his way through the mud and accelerated 30 metres down the slope to score between the posts. Dourley converted.
With both the slope and time against them, Thornhill’s run in the National Cup came to an end.