Yorkshire Division Four: Rotherham Phoenix 16 Skipton 5

ON A grey and listless day, Skipton relinquished their winning ways to in-form Rotherham Phoenix, who are challenging for promotion.

The home side had the weight advantage and, while Skipton tackled well throughout, they were equally matched by the opposition and did not make effective use of the limited possession they achieved.

Skipton kicked-off up the slight slope on a pitch that was fairly firm but devoid of grass.

The experienced Phoenix full back, who hardly put a foot wrong all afternoon, countered with a kick into Skipton's 22.

Skipton failed to clear their lines and Phoenix were awarded a penalty, which they kicked to touch, a rolling maul from the subsequent line-out putting a Phoenix lock over for an unconverted try.

The visitors incurred a penalty in front of the posts from the restart for handling the ball on the ground, which Phoenix converted to stretch their lead.

The successful penalty seemed to galvanise Phoenix side, whose back row and inside centre began to dent the Skipton defence.

Poor ball-handling concentrated play in the visitors' half but on one incursion into Phoenix territory, a good take at the line-out by second row John Pickersgill led to a penalty in Skipton's favour.

Full back Matty Langstaff's attempt at goal hit a post and bounced into touch without touching a player.

Early in the second half, Phoenix were awarded a further penalty for a Skipton offside infringement, which they converted to increase the lead.

Darryl Swales replaced Chris Sheehan in the front row for Skipton, and Luke Daniels, who had put in a hard shift in the back row, was replaced by Jordan Wilson.

Fresh legs gave Skipton momentum.

Their line-out work improved and they started to put some pressure on the home side.

No 8 Harry McEneaney was unlucky not to go over, being stopped just short of the line.

Against the run of play, a missed tackle allowed Phoenix's scrum half to break downfield and feed his winger for the home's side's second try.

Skipton continued to take the game to Phoenix, despite this setback, and were awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock-on.

A kick into the corner and a rolling maul from the line-out put Langstaff over for a try, but unfortunately his conversion attempt again hit the post.

Skipton were buoyed up by their success but this led to a determination by the Phoenix side to avoid another score, and their tackling became even harder.

No further score resulted.

On Saturday, Skipton, who lead the table by four points from Hemsworth, who have a game in hand, are at Baildon in a Yorkshire Silver Trophy semi-final (3.00).