We had hoped to build on our success from last week to stay top of the
table, but came unstuck against a determined Sharlston side who knew
how to exploit their wings in front of a vocal home crowd.
Sometimes game day just doesn’t go to plan! And even in the warm-up we
were less focussed than in previous matches. Harvey Harrap tweaking
his hamstring to force a change in a starting line-up already rejigged
to take account of missing half Dan Hagan. Sharlston did their best to
help us along by starting very slowly and allowing usual suspects
Rowan Keenan and Luke Nicholls to score early on. Keenan converting
one to put 10 points on the board without reply – but once the home
side woke up it was a different story. With only a few exceptions,
Ranger’s defence was poor across the park and despite another solid
performance from winger Kyan Denton, Sharlston were able to get over
the line three times before half-time. They failed to convert any, so
the score at half-time gave Rangers an even chance at only 10-12 down.
The second half was Rangers’ to take but Sharlston
scored first and although Rangers fought back with a full-length run
by loose forward Thomas Leaver to score under the posts and give
Thomas Hayes his best opportunity to convert. Rangers’ performance
then fell away and Sharlston finished deserved 30-16 winners. Rangers’
only glimmer of hope coming from a short-kick off which allowed Louie
Austin-Lee to force an error and drop on the loose ball.
Leaver and Will Dobson put in strong performances with centre and
vice-captain Olly Fitzsimons in support, and Harley Sharratt did his
best to impress in his first game for the club, but Hayes at lone
half-back struggled to keep a sometimes ill-disciplined pack in order
and Rangers were also sidetracked by impact injuries to Keenan.
Returning as hooker Tylor Lindsey and stalwart centre and vice-captain
Elliot Dixon-Griffiths, all caused by a hard pitch surface but
thankfully none serious.
Dobson took Players’ Man of the Match and Man of
Steel, with Coaches’ Man of the Match awarded to Leaver and Keenan
impressing the Sharlston coaches to win Opponents’ Man of the Match.
The next game is at home to Milford Marlins.
Match report sent in by Kath Hayes.