By TONY BUGBY
SADDLEWORTH RANGERS 12, THATTO HEATH CRUSADERS 22
DAVID didn’t manage to slay Goliath, but Saddleworth Rangers gave a highly creditable account of themselves against mighty Thatto Heath Crusaders in the first round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at Shaw Hall Bank Road on Saturday.
And Rangers’ coach Craig Farrimond was delighted how Rangers, from National Conference League, division two, acquitted themselves against the premier division champions in their first match of the season.
“I was proud of the effort. I asked them to play aggressively for 80 minutes and also play for each other, and they did that,” he said.
“When you think we have only had four ball sessions so far pre-season, I was really pleased. We tried to play rugby and I thought we had scored the best two tries of the match.”
Rangers, with Super League player Mark Flanagan in the crowd, made a decent start and weathered a couple of anxious moments before the visitors took the lead after 15 minutes when winger Patrick Flynn darted over in the corner.
And they fell further behind when pack man Bradley Ashurst barged his way over the line with Bobbie Goulding jnr adding the conversion to make it 10-0.
Crusaders had a try ruled out late in the half and then with the last play Rangers scored a cracking try.
Full-back Oliver Kerr made a break, hooker Josh Bradbury made a terrific run before offloading back to the supporting Kerr who crossed the line. Bradbury kicked the conversion and suddenly the deficit was 10-6.
Flynn forced his way over for a second try and full-back Corey Lee rounded off a neat passing move, both touchdowns converted by Goulding, as Crusaders opened a 22-6 lead just after the hour.
In fairness Rangers didn’t throw in the towel and battled to the end and were rewarded with a second try when Gavin Dodd made a super run to the line. Bradbury again added the goal, the last action of a terrific cup tie.