Last-gasp try denies Sheffield

Sheffield were denied at the death in a topsy-turvy clash at Old Crossleyans.

The Abbeydale side led 18-11 but deep into time added on, the home side scored a try wide out on the right and added the conversion to level the score up at 18-18 after which the referee blew for time.

It was an unsatisfactory end to a match in which Sheffield could and should have been home and dry by half-time.

They had much the better of the early exchanges but failed to turn the pressure into points although Mark Ireland did sink two penalties in the 25 and 31 minutes to edge his side ahead. Several other penalty opportunities were turned down in favour of chasing tries with kicks to the corner which unfortunately came to nothing.

Sheffield’s cause was not helped when centre Chris Dale had to leave the field after 28 minutes and was replaced by Tom Metcalf on the wing, which resulted in Ewan Reed moving up from full back to centre with Alex Hill slipping from the left wing to full back. It upset the balance of the team but they still had opportunity after opportunity to take points. Unfortunately they went begging and Sheffield ultimately paid the price two minutes before the break when Crossleyans grabbed an unconverted try.

Within 10 minutes of the second half the home side had landed two penalties and Abbeydale found themselves trailing 11-6. They bounced back seven minutes later when John Dudley went over for a try but Ireland missed what for him was a simple conversion.

Then Sheffield got a stroke of luck when Crossleyans’ right wing lost the ball and Tom Metcalf was able to pick up and scamper to the try line to score just to the left of the posts. This time Ireland added the conversion and Sheffield had what looked like a match-winning 18-11 lead with 32 minutes of the half gone.

Ireland failed with a difficult penalty on half-way three minutes later and then came that last-gasp scenario which, come the end of the season, may come back to haunt Sheffield.

Team: Ewan Reed, Alistair Womack, Chris Dale, Simon Tillyer, Alex Hill, Mark Ireland, Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer (capt), Ramsey Adamo, John Dudley, Laurence Thomas, Andy Kelly, Martin Balshaw, Ben Whitney. Replacements: Will Bennett, Dave Ellis, Tom Metcalf.

Sheffield host Morpeth on Saturday (2.15pm).