Play-offs success earns promotion for Drighlington

Tom Moorby dives over for a try for Drighlington in their National Conference Division Three play-off final win over Woolston Rovers. Picture: Jack Pickles

Tom Moorby dives over for a try for Drighlington in their National Conference Division Three play-off final win over Woolston Rovers. Picture: Jack Pickles

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A bumper crowd turned out to see Drighlington earn promotion to Division Two of the National Conference with an excellent display against Woolston Rovers.

Nathan Graham’s men were made to work hard for their success, but came from 8-2 down at half-time to run out 32-8 winners in the Division Two play-off final.

Drighlington played uphill in the first half and despite the ideal playing conditions a nervy first 10 minutes saw both sides produce unforced errors in a scrappy opening.

The home side were awarded two kickable penalties with Mike Sanderson kicking the first, but hitting the left upright with the second.

With the large Rovers pack making hard yards down the slope they created room for their three-quarters to get a touchdown apiece, Justin Becker going over on 22 minutes and Lewis Hoarty six minutes later.

The rest of the half saw scrappy play from both sides who were unable to complete their sets or build pressure to trouble the scoreboard, with the score remaining 8-2 on the turn round.

A Churchillian speech from head coach Graham at half-time inspired Drig and they went on the attack after Keiron Roche gathered the ball near his own line and sprinted past the Rovers defence. Christian Taylor just managed to pull him down seven yards short, but this foray proved to be the game breaker.

With Drighlington now dominating their opponents, strong running forward Lee Mulhern penetrated the visitors’ line on 54 minutes, with Sanderson adding the extras.

It was Sanderson who became provider with a beautifully judged kick for Roche to score Drig’s second try in the corner.

Woolston’s pack was now tiring and when Mulhern crashed over in trademark style their heads went down. Sanderson converted to give the home side a 10-point lead on 65 minutes.

Classy handling from the Drighlington backs saw Tom Moorby and Ben Nabozny employing slick interchanges, sending the latter to score on the left edge with five minutes to go.

It was Moorby’s turn just three minutes later when he jinked his way through the Rovers defence from his own 20 to score a fine try.

Roche then bagged a brace, showing his blistering pace and providing an easy conversion for Sanderson.

It was yet another game of ‘two halves’ with Drighlington stopping their opponents scoring in the second stanza for two consecutive games and completing a terrific victory over worthy opponents.

Stand-out performances came from all the home team’s pack as they created a platform for their backs to produce some fast free flowing rugby league.

Andy Brearley was awarded the man of the match while opposition man of the match went to Ryan Brown.

This outstanding result now ensures Drighlington will start the 2017 campaign in Division Two.

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