Rugby Union: ‘Appy Andy the hero again as Wath grind out victory

Andy Hopkin in action during Wath-upon-Dearne's RFU Senior Vase semi-final match against Stourbridge Lions.  Picture: Liz Mockler S1026LM
Andy Hopkin in action during Wath-upon-Dearne's RFU Senior Vase semi-final match against Stourbridge Lions. Picture: Liz Mockler S1026LM

It wasn’t pretty - but Wath’s win over Keighley on Saturday was pretty effective, as they remained in the hunt for the Yorkshire One title.

Wath welcomed Keighley to Moor Road for their final home game before the Christmas break and, in freezing conditions, third-placed Wath ground out a dogged win.

Keighley were the first off the mark with a well struck penalty, and it took Wath a good twenty minutes to find their rhythm and really get into the game.

And, when they eventually hit their stride, a period of forward pressure ended in a penalty for Andy Appleyard.

Wath continued to push on and enjoyed the best spell of the match.

Quick ball was key and, following a half break from Martin Balshaw, the ball moved across the pitch before finding Appleyard, who went through the narrowest of gaps and dived over the line. The conversion was missed, but Wath had an 8-3 half time lead.

The visitors started brightest in the second half, and outstanding pace from their left wing resulting in a try.

But, as they looked to re-take the lead, the visitors began to concede penalties.

The Wath pack had the upperhand in the set piece and, in poor conditions, this would prove vital as three second-half penalties from Appleyard stretched the hosts’ lead to 17-8.

Wath had two try scoring chances in the second period. The first came from a scything break by Ian Barker; the full back cut the defence apart before spinning the ball out to Tom Quinn on the wing.

The winger juggled with the ball, but was judged to have just lost it over the line.

The second came from inside centre Andy Hopkin who, following a sustained period of pressure, appeared to burrow over the line but the referee was unable to see the grounding and denied Wath a try.

Despite these two missed opportunities, Wath never really looked like relinquishing the lead as too many errors and penalties cost the visitors dear.

The final game before Christmas is a trip to the impressive Ilkley ground.

Wath registered a large, and rather surprising, 45-6 victory in their first home fixture of the season - but they will be under no illusions on Saturday as they visit the league leaders.

Doncaster Phoenix, meanwhile, returned to the top of the Yorkshire One table after running in seven tries on their way to a 43-20 home victory over Halifax side Heath.

The bonus point win saw them edge in front of previous leaders Ilkley.

It was not all plain sailing for the Castle Park side, however, as Heath surged 13-5 ahead after 25 minutes.

But Phoenix bounced back and took the points.