Saddleworth Rangers show why hopes are high despite Challenge Cup defeat

SADDLEWORTH Rangers’ Challenge Cup run may be over but there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

And coach Sean Whitehead believes they are well-placed for a push at National Conference League glory.

Evan Parry scored the only try in an 18-4 loss to amateur powerhouses Thatto Heath Crusaders, who only scored the game’s first points with the final play of the first half.

Sean Whitehead speaking Gary Carter from The Saddleworth Independent

Now as all eyes turn to the start of their Division Two campaign on Saturday, March 4 at West Yorkshire side Normanton, Sean believes Rangers can push.

He said: “We dropped a division but last year we were invited into that league. We had a punt and were only a bit short of staying in.

“It was a gamble but we were all in favour of it. This club doesn’t sit by, we test ourselves. That’s where we think we should be and that’s what we’re building for.

“This year, though, we’re probably where we should be, so hopefully we’ll do well. We’re a bit stronger than we were last year but we haven’t got a big squad. If we can keep injury free, though, we should be all right.

“We’ve a very young team but these players are a year older and wiser. Hopefully they can put a good show on in this league.”

Having defeated Edinburgh Eagles 30-20 in Scotland, the Thatto Heath tie looked a daunting prospect.

But Rangers made much of the early running, with half backs Matt Whitehead and Freddie Wilson guiding them around the pitch and probing.

Connor Dwyer’s double and Harry Reardon’s try wing the game the visitors’ way, however, but Sean believes the Challenge Cup ties will stand his side in good stead.

He added: “It was a big test for us. It’s no secret what Thatto Heath have in their ranks but we had a go and we found out about our boys.

“That’s what it was all about as our season starts on Saturday. That is our priority but we had a dig with a young squad as we had a few out.

“And I’ve seen plenty in training and at the Edinburgh tie. That was our first proper seniors’ game and the trip itself was all part of the bonding and the getting together.”

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