MATCH REPORT – Thunder 38 – Rams 30

Newcastle Thunder and Dewsbury Rams served up a thrilling Coral Challenge Cup tie on Sunday afternoon in one of the few sporting fixtures to take place over the weekend.

It was end to end stuff throughout and the result was in the balance right to the final hooter, with the scores tied at 30 points apiece heading into the final eight minutes.

A superb first half produced seven tries between the teams as both sides found ways to exploit their opponents defence, Thunder down the edges and the Rams directly through the middle.

After a bright start from the visitors, Thunder raced into a double-digit lead as they scored back to back tries after forcing an early goal line dropout from Dewsbury.

Kieran Gill struck first as the centre backed himself after opening a gap in the defence with a feint to his left, showing good strength to shrug off three attempted tackles and get his side off the mark.

Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e then finished off a superb break by Lewis Young after the fullback straightened his line to streak down the wing, with a well-placed pass back inside finding the Samoan half-back who finished under the posts. 

The Rams hit back on 14mins through former Thunderman Michael Knowles with the second row latching on to a well-placed pass from Frazer Morris after a neat tip-on from Liam Finn but Newcastle restored their advantage four minutes later.

Brenden Santi sparked the move with a strong charge in the middle of the park before Tyler Craig shipped the ball out wide, where Ashley Gibson finished the chance by backing himself and speeding in from 30m out.

Finn proved to be a real pain for his former club as he made tries for Paul Sykes and Connor Scott with the Rams targeting Thunder’s Rhys Clarke as a weak link, with a short range effort from Bob Beswick in the middle allowing the hosts to maintain their lead.

After a slow start to the second half where both sides locked into an arm wrestle as they attempted to find their scoring strokes, it was almost the hour mark before the hosts struck with another quick-fire double to seemingly take control of the game.

Adam Lawton was the first to score as he was fed from Alex Clegg on the wing before the giant second row turned provider moments later as a neat offload found Gill for his second and to establish 12-point cushion.

The Rams though showed the determination and credentials that have taken them to the top half of the Championship table and set up the grandstand finish with Martin Reilly and Will Oakes’ converted tries tying the match at 30 all.

Newcastle though were able to summon up enough resolve to make sure they progressed into the next round of the cup as they got their noses back in front with just two minutes to go.

A cut-out pass from Dean was pinpoint in its accuracy, finding Clegg out on the wing who dived in before the halfback sunk a sublime touchline conversion.

Playing out the remaining seconds, the Rams conceded a penalty directly in front of the posts which allowed Dean to make sure of the result with a final two points on the hooter.

Newcastle Thunder
Lewis Young, Joe Brown, Ashley Gibson, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Quentin Laulu Togaga’e, Reece Dean, Brenden Santi, Bob Beswick, Mikey Wood, Adam Lawton, Rhys Clarke, Sam Luckley, Evan Simons, Harry Aldous, Colton Roche, Sam Blake

Tries: Gill (4, 63), Laulu Togaga’e (7) Gibson (18), Beswick (27), Lawton (57), Wood, Clegg (75)
Goals: Dean 5/8

Dewsbury Rams
Joe Martin, Andrew Gabriel, William Oakes, Liam Johnson, Joe Barton, Paul Sykes, Liam Finn, Frazer Morris, Dominic Speakman, Martyn Reilly, Sonny Esslemont, Michael Knowles, Christopher Annakin, Samuel Day, Connor Scott, Jonathan Magrin, James Thornton

Tries: Knowles (15), Sykes (24) Scott (34), Reilly (68), Oakes (72)
Goals: Sykes 5/5