Skipton 22

Rotherham Phoenix 15

A PACKED stand at Sandylands saw a well-drilled Skipton side dampen third placed Rotherham Phoenix' ashes with a 22-15 victory on Saturday.

A strong start by the home side saw some early nerves, with a spilled ball allowing Phoenix possession, and swift hands put the visitors in for a converted try within two minutes of the kick-off.

Skipton remained calm and countered with a superb opening try from skipper Hamish Munro at full-back, from an off-load by outside centre George Smithson after good forward work by Harry McEneaney. The conversion attempt went wide but Skipton knew that they had all to play for.

The home side lost the ball in front of their posts from the re-start, but determined defence kept Phoenix at bay, with front row Charlie Brown to the fore with a tremendous work rate throughout.

A penalty offence by the visitors allowed Skipton down field. A knock-on at the line-out gave Skipton the scrum and a penalty to the home side for Phoenix driving in saw stand-off Jamie Donnelly over for Skipton's second try. Centre Joe Gill added the extra points.

Phoenix brought great pressure to bear on Skipton from the re-start, but great tackling saw the visitors bundled into touch.

Skipton stitched their way down the touch line, with great forward drives, but a penalty to Phoenix for Skipton not releasing allowed the visitors to put a long-range kick into the corner and go over from the line-out for their second try. The attempt at goal hit the post and the sides turned round at 12 all.

Skipton coach Craig Bartlett made some changes at half-time, bringing young Jack McLeod on at scrum-half and Ryan Chafer into the pack.

A charge down and kick through by McLeod ended in a penalty to Phoenix but turn over ball and a break away by Smithson earned Skipton a penalty for Phoenix in at the side. Gill slotted the kick to take the home side into the lead.

Joe Stapleton replaced Smithson in the centre after a knock to the leg but a high tackle by Skipton gave the visitors an easy chance to level the scores.

Prop Chris Wright returned to the field to stabilise the scrum for Skipton and despite a penalty kick into the corner by Phoenix for a Skipton high tackle, the home side stole the ball at the line-out and, from a break by Donnelly, launched pocket-rocket Jamie Carroll on the wing to go over for try number three. Gill added the extra points.

Phoenix saw the game slipping away from them and exerted extreme pressure on Skipton from the re-start. The pivotal moment of the game came when Stapleton cut his man in half with a great last tackle to snub out a fast move down the wing.

McLeod had another good break from the line out and Skipton gained a penalty for Phoenix not releasing but time had run out.

Skipton punted the kick into touch to record a 22-15 victory to the rapture of the home crowd.