METHLEY Royals are the new Pennine League Division Three leaders after staging a remarkable recovery to win 42-30 at Woodhouse Warriors on Saturday.
Trailing 24-0, they hit back in magnificent style to the delight of their head coach Paul Handforth, the former Featherstone Rovers and Castleford Tigers half-back.
Handforth said: “The boys were awesome and everyone involved did themselves and the Royals proud.
“We showed tremendous character and belief to come back from 24 points down and I don’t think any Methley open age side has ever shown that degree of commitment.
“I always thought we would win, but the way we did it was fantastic and it really does show what we are building as a group.”
Even though the Royals were aware that victory would take them to the top of the table, they looked very sluggish in the early stages.
Impressive Woodhouse scored four converted tries without reply in the opening quarter to build a commanding lead .
With Paul Handforth’s brother Matty in inspirational form at stand-off, the Royals hauled themselves back into the game and improved their completion rate.
Strong-running second-rower Jake Turner sparked the revival by grabbing two quick tries.
Mark Pritchard then crashed over on the stroke of half-time and Matty Handforth converted after taking over the goalkicking duties following a knee injury to regular kicker Sam Payne.
Woodhouse scored a breakaway try in the second half but the Methley dominated the remainder of the game.
Confirming their fitness under coaches Handforth and Reece Willshaw, the Royals took a firm grip, with loose forward Adam Biscomb and full-back Stu Biscomb particularly outstanding.
Although they were handicapped by scrum-half Lee Pritchard’s ankle injury, they hit back to level the scores with tries by Payne, winger Kieran Gledhill and Handforth.
Woodhouse, who were down to 12 men after a player was sin-binned for dissent, were unable to contain Methley in the last eight minutes.
The Royals sealed victory with touchdowns by centre Tom Kaye and Payne, plus Matty Handforth’s fifth goal.
Methley host West Leeds at Pinfold Lane on Saturday (2pm). Spectators are reminded that parking at Methley’s home games is on the pitch side of Pinfold Lane to allow buses and larger vehicles passage.
Sherburn Bears slipped to their fourth away defeat this season in Division Six when they went down 30-26 at King Cross Park A.
Sherburn failed to build on the previous week’s stunning home win against leaders Wetherby.
The depleted Bears, without several key men including playmaker Paul Walshaw, led 14-12 at half-time after giving a lack-lustre display playing down a steep slope in the first-half.
Although Sherburn forwards Shaun Richardson, Adam Wright, Lewis Booth, Steve Gudgeon, and Martin Jackson dominated down the middle, the visitors’ completition rate was poor and they lacked aggression in defence. Their first-half try scorers were Dave Thomlinson, skipper Martin Leahy and John Goldthorpe, with Steve Wood kicking one conversion.
The second period was again closely contested with the Bears taking a 26-24 lead with tries from Richardson and Craig Barker, both goaled by Wood. However, King Cross struck a vital blow six minutes from time with a try that was converted from the touchline.
In the closing stages, the Bears had what looked two perfectly good tries ruled out by the female referee. Sherburn’s Adam Wright was sent off for dissent.
Best for the Bears were veteran Richardson, top tackler Shaun Crossland and Baker.
OTHER RESULTS - Championship Division: Dewsbury Moor 30, Ackworth Jaguars 0. Division Two: Kippax Welfare 30, West Bowling A 0.