Sheffield earn vital bonus in narrow defeat

Another test of Sheffield’s resolve ended in another so-near-yet-so-far scenario at Percy Park.

They dipped to a 26-19 defeat but at least they secured a vital bonus point to maintain their mid-table spot in North 1 East.

The trip to North Shields saw the welcome return of Martin Balshaw to the back row while Dave McCabe kept the No10 shirt with Donal Collins warming the bench

Both sides were guilty of a lack of concentration, at least in attack, until the half hour mark when Sheffield put the first points on the board. James Montgomery’s mazy run ended with an off-load to Joe Cribley, who it seemed would be wrapped up by both the Percy Park centres, but inexplicably he wriggled out of their clutches to score under the posts. He added his conversion but the home side were level within four minutes with their own converted try and then added a five-pointer to take a 12-7 half time lead.

Collins replaced McCabe for the second half and was called into action immediately as Montgomery went over wide out on the left but the conversion was missed.

A match-defining seven minutes soon followed when Sheffield found themselves on the wrong end of the referee on at least three occasions which resulted in three kicked penalties for Percy Park and one missed by Sheffield to take the score to 21-12.

The home side added another unconverted try after 71 minutes to extend their lead to 14 points but Sheffield regrouped and Alex Hill went agonisingly close to reducing the deficit but was bundled into touch inches short of the try line.

However, shortly after Tommy Marples crashed over out on the right and Collins landed the conversion to give the Abbeydale side the bonus.

There was still time for Balshaw to be despatched to the sin bin and for Montgomery, on the charge, to be blocked out by the home winger - unfortunately the referee didn’t see it that way.

Team: Ben Campbell, James Montgomery, Joe Cribley, Ewan Reed, Alex Hill, Dave McCabe (Collins half time) Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer, Ramzey Adamo (Stanney 74) John Dudley, Tom White, Dave Ellis (Atkinson 74) Martin Balshaw, Andy Kelly (capt). Replacements: Chris Stanney, Robert Atkinson, Donal Collins.