We’re only into the second game of the season and there’s already a Sheffield milestone to celebrate.
Dave Ellis plays his 100th game for the Abbeydale club at Cleckheaton on Saturday as they look to build on their amazing start to their North One East programme at Gateshead.
The Kiwi flanker has been an influential presence in the Sheffield side for the last five years, none more so than in last season’s promotion-clinching campaign when his powerhouse displays earned him the Players Player of the Year award.
Skipper Andy Kelly certainly appreciates what Ellis brings to the team: “Dave’s very tough and puts in the hards hits,” said Kelly. “He’s great to have around.”
Despite the incredible 55-3 victory at Gateshead, Kelly knows that the Cleckheaton clash will be much more difficult even though they dipped to a 32-25 defeat at Sheffield’s old Yorkshire One rivals Malton and Norton.
“Cleckheaton finished third last season so we know it’s going to be a real challenge and more of a true reflection of what we can expect in this league,” he said.
“Our result at Gateshead exceeded all expectations. We were only 12-3 up at half-time and although I felt confident I never expected such a flurry of points in the second half.
“What I was really pleased about was the lads never eased up. They kept going relentlessly, wanting to score as many points as possible.
“It was an excellent win and a great start. We’ve put down a marker but it’s the first match; we’re certainly not going to get ahead of ourselves.”
Stand off Donal Collins starred with the boot as he bagged 25 points in the Gateshead debacle.
He opened the scoring with a ninth minute drop goal and added three penalties to give Sheffield their nine point advantage at the break, despite losing Ellis to the sin bin. Collins converted a penalty at the onset of the second half and then added the conversion to Tommy Marples’ try in the 54 minute. The home side were penalised at the restart and their No6 was despatched to the sin bin followed almost immediately by the loss of their No8 with a shoulder injury.
Sheffield took full advantage as John Dudley crashed over and Collins plundered the extras. Within minutes Joe Cribley scored out wide on the left and Collins again did the business to make the score 33-3.
Scrum half Matt Poste scurried through the defence from the back of a ruck for another converted try and Alex Hill then went over in the corner and Collins struck a magnificent conversion. There was still time for Cribley to complte the rout and for Collins to miss the conversion!
Teams: Liam Wallace, Ewan Reed, Joe Cribley, Dave McCabe, Alex Hill, Donal Collins, Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer, Chris Machen, John Dudley, Kyle Howard, Dave Ellis, Laurence Thomas, Andy Kelly (capt). Replacements: Ramzey Adamo, Tom White, Martin Balshaw.