Saturday 2nd September 2023.
In Impact Performance National Conference League Division 1 Heworth just came up short in their bid to keep their hopes of automatic promotion alive after going down 26-24 to Egremont Rangers in a tough, nail biting, end to end encounter at Elmpark Way. The sides were locked at 12-12 at the break and 18-18 after 50 minutes but two moments of indiscipline by the Villagers at crucial times in the closing stages, both of which resulted in yellow cards and enabled the visitors to take advantage of the extra man and establish an eight point lead with five minutes remaining. Inevitably though it went all the way down to the wire with the Black and Whites giving themselves a glimmer of hope after hitting back with a converted try two minutes from the final whistle but it proved too little too late and it was the Cumbrians who secured the second promotion spot. Goal kicking also proved vital to the outcome with Heworth, who posted five touchdowns to their opponents four, only being able to add the extras on two occasions whilst Rangers stand-off Kristian Tyson produced a perfect afternoon with the boot with four conversions and a penalty.
The opening exchanges were fiercely contested with both sides striving to grab the momentum which produced a number of unforced errors but it was the visitors who drew first blood after 8 minutes with a try by winger Sam Appleby converted by Tyson. The lead was short lived however and four minutes later a quick shift to the right created space for centre George Elliott to cross for an unconverted score. Despite the early points the contest remained even with defences proving difficult to crack and it wasn't until the 26th minute that the hosts produced a flowing handling movement from right to left and centre Tyler Craig's fine flick pass put winger Adam Dent over in the corner to edge them 8-6 ahead. It didn't take long for Rangers to respond and just past the half hour mark impressive full back Fraser Mcnee put them back in front after crossing for another Tyson goaled effort. Five minutes before the interval more slick passing from Heworth again exposed the visitors left edge and Craig touched down wide out to make it 12-12.
The Villagers gave themselves an immediate boost after two minutes of the second period when stand- off Danny Allan sent full back Fraser West striding through a gap, again on the left side to score a fine try which Elliott converted for a six point lead. The excitement continued and on 50 minutes the visitors replied through prop Kieran Glenn who forced his way over under the posts for Tyson to add the extras and once more level matters at 18-18. Five minutes later Heworth substitute Jack Sadler was sin binned for his part in a flare up and following strong pressure by the visitors Tyson nudged them two points in front with a penalty goal for a high tackle. As the tension mounted with both sides striving to gain the ascendancy on 71 minutes the hosts suffered another setback when Allan was, some thought harshly, yellow carded for a shoulder charge. The impact was felt just four minutes later when Rangers took advantage of the extra man with Tyson going over for their final touchdown and slotting his fifth goal to make it 26-18. It seemed almost inevitable that there was more drama to come and so it proved when with two minutes left on the clock Craig followed up to collect a neat chip kick by West over the visitors defensive line and send Elliott over for his second try which Sadler improved to reduce the deficit to two points. Unfortunately for the Villagers, despite one final valiant effort they just ran out of time and a superb game of rugby from two intensely committed sides went the way of the jubilant Cumbrian outfit.
Scrum half Liam Jackson took Heworth's man of the match award.
The only consolation for the Villagers is that whatever the outcome of next weeks remaining League game at Oulton Raiders (Kick off 2.30p.m) they will still finish in third place in the table and will therefore have home advantage in the play-offs for the final promotion place which commence on Saturday 16 September.
Report - Dave Ward