Saturday 13th January 2024. 1:30pm KO.
Heworth exited the Betfred Challenge Cup at the first hurdle following a disappointing display which saw them fall to a 22-20 defeat at the hands of NCL Division 1 outfit Clock Face Miners. The Villagers were never ahead in the match and paid the price for an error strewn and and indisciplined performance, particularly in the first half, which enabled the St Helens side to register four tries and establish a 22-4 lead in the opening hour. Despite a determined fightback which produced three touchdowns against a tiring defence to reduce the deficit to two points with just three minutes left on the clock it proved just a bridge too far and the hosts clung on for a well deserved victory.
The Miners capitalised on a poor start by Heworth who struggled to find any cohesion and went ahead after seven minutes when the defence failed to deal with a grubber kick from close to their own line and scrum half Lewis Geraghty followed up to touch down. Full back Danny Price added the conversion. Five minutes later the Villagers did show a brief glimpse of what they were capable of when centre George Elliott blasted his way past several defenders from just inside his own half and found stand off Ben Dyson-Dent up in support who made good ground before sending returning loose forward Ben Barnard over to score an impressive try. The remainder of the half though belonged to the home side as Heworth continued to struggle to maintain any momentum due to committing too many basic errors and conceding a growing number of penalties which gifted their opponents possession and territory which severely tested their defensive qualities. Something had to give and on 31 minutes the hosts extended their lead to six points when centre Karle Hunt gathered a high kick to touch down wide out on the right edge. Right on the stroke of half time Price edged them further in front with what eventually turned out to be a crucial penalty goal to make it 12-4 at the break.
Sensing the chance of an upset Clock Face kept up the pressure at the start of the second half and their efforts were rewarded when some good handling led to winger Luke Leyden going over in the right corner for an unconverted score. Five minutes later it looked all over for the Villagers when fellow wingman Jimmy Jones crossed on the opposite edge and Price nailed the touchline conversion to put them 22-4 in front. The Black and Whites though finally managed to find some cohesion and on 57 minutes Elliott showed his strength to burst through for a fine individual try and Dyson-Dent added the extras. Eight minutes later second rower Liam Richmond set home nerves jangling after striding through a gap in the defensive line to make it 22-14. Heworth were now on the front foot and with ten minutes remaining they created another scoring opportunity on the right edge but failed to find the final pass and the chance went begging. They were still not done though and on 77 minutes it was all to play for when Elliott went in under the posts for his second touchdown after following up his own chip kick and slotting the conversion to cut the deficit to two points. The final three minutes proved extremely hectic but the Miners managed to hang on and claim their place in the second round.
Ben Barnard took the opposition Man of the match award and George Atang won the Heworth Man of the match.