Late tries see off Thornhill Trojans in crucial National Conference Premier clash

A second half collapse saw a must-win game slip from Thornhill Trojans’ grasp to leave them firmly in the bottom three relegation places in the Premier Division of the National Conference League.

By Tony Harber
Monday, 13th June 2022, 6:59 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 7:01 pm

The Trojans welcomed Ben Kendall back to the club following his release by Mirfield Stags while there was also a debut for Danny Buckley, who has joined from Ossett Rugby Union, as they travelled to play Pilkington Recs.

But in the final analysis it was simply a lack of fitness and sheer will to win which proved to be Thornhill’s undoing. Players need to commit to training at least twice a week if they have any chance of competing in what is the highest standard in the community game.

Pilkington had former St Helens player Owain Abel running the show from the full-back position. He used his pace to terrorise the Trojans from the off.

Late tries condemned Thornhill Trojans to defeat in a key game against Pilkington Recs.

Early in the game the hosts had a try disallowed when the referee ruled they were offside. Another opportunity was cancelled out when Trojans full-back Ryan Mitchell pulled off a fantastic last-ditch tackle to halt Abel.

Another Pilks try was ruled out for a forward pass before Thornhill made a great break through Kendall who went rampaging up field only for the final pass to Luke Haigh to go to ground.

In the run up to half-time Pilks broke the deadlock with a try through Jack Mannion. Despite Thornhill’s calls for a forward pass Mannion barged over for a try and did well to hold off the attention of Mitchell. The conversion was added by Kyran Napper.

The first-half action continued with Trojans still making an impact. Adam Allerton went close to scoring but ended up in touch. Mitchell once again snubbed out a break from Abel with a solid tackle.

Sam Ratcliffe ran onto a pass from Danny Buckley and broke away to cover half the length of the field, but was eventually hauled down.

At half-time Thornhill’s travelling supporters were still in an optimistic mood as the Trojans were still very much in this game and would have the wind behind them in the second half.

This optimism proved to be justified when from a scrum close to the try-line, Haigh broke away and forced his way over for Thornhill’s opening try. The goal was missed.

But injuries began to take its toll and the Trojans tried to reshuffle to accommodate. Thornhill started to lose composure and this was compounded by waning fitness levels.

An offload in the tackle allowed Pilks to keep the ball alive and space was created for Knapper to score a try which he converted himself.

This was followed by another try for the home team when Jon Key burrowed his way under a pile of defenders to score. Napper converted.

But Thornhill managed to rally and Casey Johnson put James Flanagan away on a run. Flanagan held off his pursuers and sprinted away to score a long-range try, pointing to the sky to signify he had scored. The goal was missed.

Will Gledhill then made a break, but Flanagan this time was unable to hold the ball.

However, with 10 minutes remaining Thornhill appeared to have nothing left in the tank as their hosts launched more attacks. Abel broke clear and put Knapper over for a try. Napper converted.

Near to full-time Ryan Liptrot scooted from acting half to go over for a try and seal the win. Napper converted.

Man of the match was Casey Johnson.

Trojans are back at home this Saturday when they face mid-table Rochdale Mayfield (kick-off 2.30pm).

Thornhill Trojans’ Yorkshire Men’s League team was beaten 42-20 by Garforth Tigers in a Division Four match.

Jacob Holmes (two), Nathan Lowther and Richard Llewellyn were try scorers while Llewellyn and Liam Ward kicked goals.

Man of the match was Nathan Lowther.