An under-strength Thornhill Trojans slipped to a 36-8 defeat away to Leigh East in National Conference League Division Two last Saturday.
The Trojans always knew this was going to be a difficult trip to the Leigh Sports Village before the season had even started.
With several players booked to be away on bachelor parties, the club had the foresight to request a week off for their A team, allowing the available players to to fulfil the Conference fixture.
Several A team players were on duty, with Steve Smith, Jason Milner, Josh Lister and Matt Teasdale all making their first team debuts.
It was a very creditable performance from the Trojans and the players on duty can be proud, especially, given that in the same fixture last season, Thornhill were on the wrong end of a 50-0 drubbing.
With no coaching staff available, the man in charge of the dug out was injured player Jake Wilson and he did well to offer advice in trying circumstances.
The Trojans’ cause was made that much harder when Luke Haigh had to be helped from the field after only three minutes with an injury, although he recovered sufficiently to return to the field later in the game.
It was straight after Haigh’s initial departure that Leigh East scored their first try.
A Thornhill defender was over eager to make a tackle and shot out of the defensive line. A gap appeared and Zac Nichols shot through it to go over for a try to the side of the posts. Tom Worthington converted.
Leigh East continued to put Thornhill under pressure, capitalising on the visitors’ errors.
The next try materialised when the ball was moved at speed, another gap opened up and Nichols went over for his second.
Nichols was allowed to bring the ball infield nearer the posts and Worthington converted.
Stand-off Adam Holland sold a dummy and Thornhill were again sliced wide open. Holland darted over for an unconverted try.
Thornhill showed tremendous fighting spirit and started a revival after a flare up resulted in the Trojans being put on a team warning.
Undeterred, Thornhill pressed forward and Haigh made a sterling break. Man-of-the-match Ben Kendall made good ground and the Trojans were finally rewarded when Gareth Love ran onto a pass and powered over for an unconverted try.
The Trojans trailed 16-4 when they came out for the second half but the brakes were almost immediately put on their comeback hopes when they made a total mess of dealing with a Leigh East kick.
Leigh kicked towards the try line and the Thornhill defence misjudged the bounce of the ball, allowing Jay Yarwood to score. Worthington converted.
Leigh East repeated the trick of catching Thornhill out with another kick and Sam Graney scored an unconverted try.
Thornhill gave their travelling supporters something to cheer when Will Gledhill sold a dummy and he outpaced the defence to score a great try.
Leigh East set about wrapping up the game as Graney turned the Thornhill defence inside out to score an unconverted try.
From the restart, Leigh cut through the Thornhill defence.
Good support play kept the move alive over half the length of the field before Worthington went over the whitewash for the final try of the game and he converted.
Thornhill will hope to have a stronger side on duty when they host Bradford Dudley Hill on Saturday.