Morley RFC go into this Saturday’s Yorkshire Cup game away at Pocklington with renewed hope after an encouraging display away to promotion challengers Sandal.
The Maroons went down to their seventh successive defeat, but earned a losing bonus point as they only narrowly failed to cause an upset in the West Yorkshire derby.
This was with a team containing four players making their debut with Charlie Harris starting in the back row and fellow newcomer Joe Rogers at prop. Tom Barnes and Christian Head made their debut as replacements while winger Andy Funnell was making only his second appearance for the Maroons.
All five players will now be hoping to be given a chance to shine in the second round Yorkshire Cup tie at Pocklington when Morley will be aiming to earn a home tie against Wharfedale in the quarter-finals.
Morley came within a whisker of defeating third-placed Sandal in National Three North last Saturday.
The Maroons went into the game on the back of six straight defeats and leaking points at an alarming rate, but a much improved defensive effort saw them push their hosts all the way before they finally went down 22-17 to a late try.
It could have been a win they were celebrating as a less charitable referee might well have red carded Sandal full-back James Ellar for a cynical obstruction on his opposite number when Dante van der Merwe was in full flight.
Van der Merwe had ghosted through the Sandal central defence when he executed the perfect chip shot over the full-back. The obstruction was clearly seen and Ellar duly received a yellow card, but no penalty try was awarded, much to the frustration of the Maroons supporters.
However, retribution was not long in coming. From the resulting penalty, Bradley Marsh and debutant Tom Barnes combined to get the ball to fly-half Kenny Sewell. His long pass gave wing Tom Clough a chance to attack the Sandal defence and he managed to get over the line with players hanging onto him.
Sewell’s calm conversion put Morley into a 17-15 lead with just after 10 minutes left, but they were unable to hold on with Sandal getting a winning try through Sean Maguire following a rolling maul five minutes later. Mark Pease added the conversion and defeat was hard on the Maroons after they had battled back from a 15-7 half-time deficit.
Morley surprised their hosts with a committed display from the start and scored first with van der Merwe scoring after running back a poor Sandal kick.
Sewell kicked the conversion, but the hosts hit back with tries by Jason Proctor and Simon Frewin plus a conversion and penalty by Pease.
Morley started the second half well with barnstorming runs from centre Laurence Frantzis and were rewarded with a penalty slotted over by Sewell before the Clough try that so nearly won it.