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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ulverston claim RL crown with Bamber Bridge win

ULVERSTON claimed the North West Men’s Division Three title with a stunning win over Bamber Bridge.

With both teams going into the game on the hunt for the league crown, a large crowd of around 400 turned up at Dragley Beck.

The visitors, victors over Ulverston in the reverse fixture just weeks before, had most of the early possession, putting the hosts under pressure.

The Preston side had countless sets camped on Ulverston’s line, but the defence kept their heads up and kept them at bay until the 18th minute, when Danny Bateson crashed over and Brandon Dixon added the conversion for 6-0.

The introduction of Adam Mills and Mike Reeks from the bench was met with great cheers from the home support and they provided the home side with a second wind.

Mills led the way, making a powerhouse drive up the middle of the park, leaving the Bridge defence staggered. A quick play-the-ball allowed captain Marc Dixon to weave his way over from 30 yards out, Marc Storey adding the goal to level the match at 6-6.

Mills was again at the heart of the move as Ulverston went ahead, powering through three would-be tacklers to put them 12-6 up at the break.

Both teams came out after half-time with all cylinders firing.

Duane ‘Dinga’ Bell was on top form with his storming runs and tackles, causing problems for opposition centre Steve O’Connor, while man-of-the-match Josh Proctor and fellow 16-year-old Howard Rowley made some great carries.

But the deadlock was broken by Bridge centre Jamie Jackson, who squeezed over from close range. Dixon added the goal for 12-12.

The hard graft up the middle of the park for Ulverston came from Matt Storey, Che Smith and Scott Houston.

The big visiting forwards were becoming frustrated with Ulverston’s never-say-die mentality and tempers started to flare, but the home side stuck to playing rugby and Matt Storey won a penalty after fisticuffs 10 yards out.

Brother Marc opted for a quick tap and Tom Wilkinson sent winger Rowley over in the corner after a sweeping move, 16-12.

But minutes later Ulverston conceded again as Jackson could not be stopped from two yards out, the scores levelled once more at 16-16. The visitors’ comeback was short-lived, however, as 16-year-old rookie hooker Tom Wilkinson stepped up to the plate.

He picked up a spilt ball and set off on a brilliant individual run, handing off a Bridge forward in his own half.

He was tripped and scuffed, but carried on, finally sidestepping the full-back and sliding over the line for one of the tries of the season. Marc Storey added the extras for 22-16.

The visitors had no reply and more frustration gave Marc Storey the perfect opportunity to add another two points with a penalty.

The Bridge had one last attack, but it was too little, too late as they touched down in the corner through Ben Whetwell. With the score at 24-20, the final whistle blew and Ulverston were crowned champions.

Ulverston: White, Rowley, Bell, O’Connor, M Wilkinson, Spedding, Marc Storey, Smith, Dixon, Matt Storey, Houston, Proctor, High. Substitutes: T Wilkinson, Mills, Reeks, Saunders.

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