Slow start proves costly for Sharks

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Shaw Cross Sharks were unable to get their National Conference League form back on track as they lost 44-18 at Featherstone Lions last Friday.

It was the Sharks fourth game in 11 days and they had several key players missing through injury and struggled to assert their dominance on the game.

Shaw Cross showed, in parts, what they were capable of but a slow start and weak finish proved pivotal in the outcome of the match.

Featherstone opened the scoring as they pounced on a mistake from Sharks full-back Ryan Chalkley, who was unable to collect a kick under the glare of the sun. Joshua Hardcastle got to the loose ball to score for the hosts.

Lions increased their advantage by scoring two more tries in the next 15 minutes. Joe Fox used his pace to get on the end of another kick and touched down in the corner.

Minutes later Featherstone went further ahead as they capitalised on a gap in the defence and scored between the posts.

Shaw Cross started to fight their way back into the game and got a deserved try through Martyn Holland, who stepped round a defender to score.

Having got back into the game Cross conceded for a fourth time. Fox was a threat all evening and was on hand again, this time sending the winger racing down the touchline to score.

Shaw Cross knew they needed a fast start to the second half and first team debutant Nathan Wright scored a brilliant try as he gathered a pass from Chalkley and ran 50 metres, shook off the opposition full-back and outpaced the cover defence to score.

The Sharks continued to press but it was the hosts who increased their advantage as they broke through to score near the corner.

Sharks again hit back with a try from Will Gledhill. The ball was played out to the left and Gledhill powered through the tackle to score his fifth try of the season.

Chalkley was on kicking duties in the absence of Danny Flowers and made it three kicks from three to cut the difference to eight points.

With 20 minutes to play the visitors knew they still had a chance to get something from the game but just as they had got themselves back into the match Featherstone scored again, using space down the left and cut inside and score between the posts.

Further Lions pressure resulted in hooker Sam Candlin scoring their sixth try when he ploughed through a tackler to touch down and stretch the lead further.

Shaw Cross continued to show fighting spirit but the seal was put on the game as Joe Fox went over for his second try, stepping over a Sharks defender on his way to the line to complete the scoring.

The Sharks now have a two break week in which they look to re-group and prepare for the second half of the season knowing that a turn round in form will help them climb from 12th place in the Division One standings.