Ottewell, Naughton Stephenson efforts unable to prevent Sharks cup exit

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Shaw Cross Sharks bowed out of the Coral Challenge Cup at the first hurdle, going down 28-16 at home to Haydock last Saturday.

Haydock put in an admirably spirited performance to defeat a Sharks side who had beaten Dewsbury Celtic in their opening pre-season fixture the previous week.

The Sharks were outplayed by a determined visiting side who were roared on by a vocal away following from Lancashire.

Haydock showed their intent to go toe-to-toe with the Sharks early on, and scored the first try after eight minutes.

Dean Dollin, who was a thorn in the Sharks side throughout, was kept out by scrambling defence on the line but Danny Davies danced through to score with Steven Jones converting.

The Sharks eventually began to gain a foothold in the game, and after putting pressure on the line they forced Haydock back over their own line following a turnover.

From the drop out, Cross moved the ball left and Sam Ottewell took on the line and twisted through to score.

Both sides had a man sent to the bin as John Travena saw yellow for a high tackle, while the Sharks’ Elliott Richardson was directed to the sidelines for running in.

The home side were first to take advantage of the open space, with hooker Dec Naughton burrowing over the line and Callum Barker added the conversion as the Sharks led.

However, back-to-back tries in the final three minutes of the first half changed the complexion of the game.

Despite having little attacking position in the previous 20 minutes, Haydock were effective when they did as Stuart Simmons went over, with Jones converting to put them back in front.

Seconds later Haydock scored again, as a sweeping break across the field was finished off by half-back Andrew Bacon. Jones converted to put the visitors 18-10 up at half-time.

Haydock made a good start to the second half and Danny Gee thought he had touched down but the referee consulted with his touch judge and they ruled the forward had been held up.

It was the visitors who eventually got the next try though as a superb solo effort from Dollin left the Sharks on their knees, as the centre weaved across the line before rounding the winger and sprinting in to touch down. Jones’s conversion made it 24-10.

There was still life left in Shaw Cross and Logan Stephenson wriggled free from tacklers to score on the left after good work from Barker, with Ottewell converting.

The hosts kept the pressure on their opponents, but they continued to be undone by errors as they tried to force passes to break down a determined Haydock defence.

They were fortunate to still be in the game when Haydock broke through following a succession of passes but desperate defending managed to deny Michael Sexton close to the try line.

The Sharks weren’t taking chances at the other end though, and the tie was settled with eight minutes to go when Connor Smith sprayed a pass to the right wing and Karl Dinsdale dived over in the corner to wrap up the win.