It’s all change for Sheffield as they made certain of a Play Off place in Yorkshire One.
In a bizarre ruling by the RFU, the second-placed Abbeydale side will now play their rearranged home clash against champions Malton and Norton this Saturday and not the following Saturday as originally planned.
They April 30 date will now see them travel to Castleford for their penultimate league game followed by their promotion Play Off at either Darlington or Gateshead on May 7.
Then, for some reason only known to the powers that be, Sheffield will travel to North Ribblesdale a week later to complete their league fixtures - the day when the team is due to embark on their end-of-season mystery tour.
Former skipper Ryan Amos is one of a number of players who will miss the Malton clash, which is now largely irrelevant considering the position both clubs find themselves in. Malton have sealed the title in runaway style - there’s a 21 point gap between them and Sheffield - while Andy Kelly’s men are seven points clear of third-placed Heath with two matches in hand.
“We’ve not really been given any reason as to the fixture changes,” said Amos.
However, while it would be the team’s intention to prove a point against Malton, the focus is now very much on the Play Off game.
“We would, of course, have preferred to be in Malton’s position but that’s not the case and we now have to do it the hard way,” he added. “Promotion was our aim at the start of the season and we’ve half achieved that. We’re a much more settled team and club now and we’ll be going all out to finish what we started.”
Meanwhile ‘we do like to be beside the seaside’ had rather a hollow ring to it as Sheffield were forced to settle for a point in a 20-20 draw at Bridlington.
Boosted by the return of Joe Cribley at outside centre and ‘impact man’ John Dudley on the bench after his trip to Dubai, Sheffield took the lead after 15 minutes when Tom White crashed over and Donal Collins added the conversion. Within four minutes the gap had been cut to four points as the home side were gifted a penalty almost directly in front of the posts. Sheffield had to wait until additional time in the first half to add to their tally when Collins, who had missed two earlier chances, landed a penalty.
Within four minutes of the second half, they moved into a 17-3 lead courtesy of a penalty try. Bridlington reduced the deficit by five points but shortly after Collins had the opportunity to put more daylight between the teams, unfortunately he hooked his penalty effort wide to the left. Midway through, Bridlington got away with a blatent knock on and it resulted in a converted try.
Minutes later Collins’ drop goal helped settle the nerves only for Sheffield to suffer another strange decision when a lineout was awarded to the home side, rather than the visitors and despite more forward passes, Bridlington bagged a try out wide on the right to level the scores.
Inexplicably, Bridlington decided to change their kicker and the conversion was missed.
Team: Nick Cook (Ewan Reed 85), James Montgomery, Joe Cribley, Ryan Amos, Alex Hill, Donal Collins, Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer, Chris Machen, Dave Ellis, Tom White (John Dudley 64), Laurence Thomas, Martin Balshaw, Andy Kelly (capt). Unused replacement: Nick Tomsett.