LEE Starbuck’s four-try haul was in vain as Methley Royals were pipped 34-30 by Thornhill Trojans in Monday’s pulsating Pennine League Andrew Bennett Memorial Trophy final at Dewsbury Rams.
Starbuck (pictured) was in top form as Division Three champions Methley competed magnificently and staged several fightbacks to go agosisingly close to snatching a surprise win against Division Two champions Thornhill.
The Royals went close to opening the scoring when a pass by centre Lee Mapals to winger Josh Dixon went to ground.
Thornhill made the most of the let-off to take a 12-0 lead but Methley bounced back when Matty Handforth created tries for outstanding duo Lee Mapals and John Hughes. Sam Payne added one conversion.
Thornhill then took control to build a 22-10 interval lead after Methley were handicapped by an injury to substitute Jake Turner.
The Royals, with prop Adam Biscomb to the fore, roared back seven minutes into the second period when Handforth and half-back partner Chris Woolford sent in Starbuck and Payne goaled.
The Trojans scored again but Methley cut the gap to eight points when Handforth’s slick pass put in Starbuck and Payne again converted.
Methley’s Stu Biscomb had an effort ruled out before Thornhill stretched their lead to 14 points.
The Royals stormed back once more with Starbuck grabbing two more tries from passes by Handforth and Reece Willshaw.
Payne adding one conversion to reduce the arrears to four points.
Methley nearly scored again at the death but Starbuck was unable to take Handforth’s pass in a threatening position. Mick Astbury, Richard Scott and Matty Jackson also shone for the Royals.
Methley second team impressed under coach Andy Daw in a 30-18 defeat at Barnsley Broncos in Saturday’s friendly.
The Royals were level at 12-12 at half-time through tries by Eric Banner and Jake Dickinson who goaled each effort.
Injuries took their toll on Methley in the second-half. Dickinson converted Banner’s second try and Rob Wright and Jamie Wainwright-Call went close to scoring.
Methley second-team’s next scheduled fixture is at Moorends Thorne Marauders on Saturday, May 19.