Late tries take gloss off Upton’s display

Two Upton tacklers move in to deal with a threat from King Cross Park player Joel McFarlane in Saturday's  Pennine League Championship Division match that Upton won 26-20. Picture: Jim Fitton.

Two Upton tacklers move in to deal with a threat from King Cross Park player Joel McFarlane in Saturday's Pennine League Championship Division match that Upton won 26-20. Picture: Jim Fitton.

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Upton maintained their Pennine League Championship Division title bid with Saturday’s 26-20 win at King Cross Park.

Upton are second in the table, five points adrift of leaders Methley Royals who have played one game more.

Saturday’s victory was more comfortable than the score suggests because Upton were 26-10 up before they conceded two tries in the last four minutes.

On a windy day on a sloping pitch, Upton led 14-4 at half-time after playing down hill in the first half.

They took a second minute lead when good work by Brendan Rooston, Dave Backhouse and Jake Turner, who broke two tackles, paved the way for Liam Harnell, Steve Beal and Dean Raikes to send in winger Andy Iveson.

Kings Cross levelled with an 11th minute try after one of several strange refereeing decisions.

Upton regained the lead four minutes later when Shaun James and Paul Thompson set up the position for Turner to burst onto Harnell’s short pass to score a try that Beal goaled.

With Iveson, Rooston and Ross Price working hard, Upton continued to dominate.

Excellent play by Stuart James and Thompson led to Harnell sending veteran forward Neil Mears crashing over to increase the lead to 10 points.

Playing up the slope in the second-half, Upton knew the game was not over.

The home side applied pressure but Upton full-back Todd Wiliamson dealt with their early tactical kicks before Beal started to kick behind the King Cross line to turn them back up the hill.

Forwards Nick Welsh, Craig Brown and Mears made lots of carries to put Upton on the front foot.

It paid dividends in the 57th minute when Turner and Thompson took play to halfway. Harnell scooted clear and left the King Cross defence for dead before sending in the speedy Backhouse whose try was goaled by Beal.

Price made a crunching tackle as Upton retained control but they conceded a soft try after 62 minutes following a number of mistakes as they looked rusty after the festive break.

Upton were still trying to play rugby and they also forced errors from their Halifax-based opponents.

Ten minutes from time, stand-off Beal sealed victory by scoring a clever individual try he also converted.

The score led to a minor skirmish.

Upton conceded two late tries after poor defence left gaps out wide. It gave Upton plenty to work on in training this week.

Upton’s John Cox physiotherapy man of the match award went to Harnell followed by Rooston and Stu James.

Upton host Slaithwaite Saracens at Quarry Lane on Saturday (2pm kick-off).