FRYSTON Warriors slipped to a last gasp 20-18 defeat against Sharlston Rovers in Saturday’s BARLA National Cup final at Fylde.
Leading 18-16 in the dying minutes, Fryston paid dear for failing to close the game down.
A forward pass led to Sharlston getting possession from a scrum which resulted in Rovers full-back Derrel Olpherts being halted by a superb try-saving tackle from Fryston’s Dale Cogan 10 metres from the try line.
When Cogan was penalised for holding down, Sharlston opted to run the ball instead of kicking at goal and the gamble paid off when Steve Hall’s pass put in Gareth Davies at the corner for the winning score.
It was tough on Fryston who matched Sharlston’s four tries in a pulsating contest.
Warriors coach Malcolm Agar said: “The defeat is very painful but I am so proud of my players from 1 to 17. We’ve done so well to get this far in only our second year and we’ll build on this. Sharlston are a very good side and they proved that by coming back so well.”
Fryston’s pack, led by skipper Gareth Handford, Steve Scott, Mark Castle and substitute Dean Tucker, was in outstanding form.
Castle won the Tom Keaveney Memorial man of the match award for a magnificdent 80-minute stint.
The Castleford side went ahead after five minutes when, following two successive penalties, James Cryer scored by pouncing on a kick.
Tucker’s powerful run then paved the way for Andy Speake to send Gareth Handford crashing over to make it 8-0 mid-way through the first-half.
Sharlston replied with Geoff Hick’s 27th minute try and then snatched a 10-8 interval lead when Craig Miles crossed and Tommy Malyan converted.
Fryston were handicapped by the loss of Scott Horner with an arm injury early in the second-half.
They went close to regaining the lead when Lee Land created a chance for Andy Matthews but he was bundled into touch.
Sharlston then increased their lead to 16-8 when Lee Lingard scored a 52nd minute try that Malyan improved but Fryston roared back.
Scott was held up on the line before Gareth Handford crashed over for his second try and Speake added the extras.
Fryston looked set to become the first local team for 26 years to lift the National Cup when Probert’s kick to the corner set up Cryer’s second touchdown 11 minutes from time to put them two points ahead but they were denied by Sharlston’s late show.
Fryston Warriors: Cogan; Cryer, Lumb, Land, Matthews; Speake, Probert; G Handford, Dickinson, Jones, Scott, Castle, Horner. Subs: S Handford, Flowers, Tucker, Swinson.
Sharlston Rovers: Olpherts; Hick, Davies, Lingard, Malyan; Jones, Hill; Burns, Bettinson, Richardson, Sutton, Hall, Miles. Subs: Saville, Crowther, Saynor, Maskill.