Hemsworth RUFC ended a run of five straight league defeats with a dramatic 20-19 victory over Burley at Moxon Fields on Saturday.
Carl Wroe’s men had suffered a slide down the Yorkshire Division 3 table with a winless run stretching back to the start of December, but the one-point win will give Hemsworth a big shot in the arm in their battle against relegation.
The hosts had to come from 19-8 down at half-time to secure their victory, and they had to do it with more injuries hampering their squad.
Prop Dan Snowden was the latest casualty with a broken finger, while Jim Cain and Dale Harrison were brought into the front row to replace injured props Paul Lawton and Mark Ellis.
Hemsworth started brightly and had a chance to kick an early penalty but instead opted to go for the try but kicking for touch, only to miss the opportunity and conceded possession to the visitors.
Burley took advantage, with a converted try under the posts putting them ahead after 10 minutes, and only desperate defence, including a superb tackle by Zac Mears, restricted further scores.
That was until the 20 minute mark when Burley doubled their advantage with another conversion in front of the posts.
Joe Thompson managed to reduce the deficit within five minutes but the visitors quickly added to their score with an unconverted try for a 19-3 lead.
The hosts grabbed a lifeline right on the stroke of half-time when Rob Taylor crossed the whitewash.
Coach Carl Wroe rung the changes on the restart, with Matt Hawcroft, Rob Simmons and James Bennett introduced and the changes had just the desired impact when, five minutes into the second half, Hawcroft charged the ball down and kicked it up-field before touching down. Thompson added the extras.
The transformation from Hemsworth’s first-half performance to their second-half showing was there for all to see, especially the Burley forwards, who could find no way through an improved home defence.
Hemsworth’s back row of Rhys Coates, Danny Key and Charlie Briscoe were all over the park and Burley were being put under tremendous pressure at the breakdown, which eventually led to one of their forwards being sin-binned on 52 minutes.
Hemsworth won a penalty a minutes later but Thompson failed with the attempt. But, after a great break by Rob Taylor, Hawcroft was handed the ball and he touched down to give Wroe’s men the lead for the first time.
That is the way it stayed for the remaining 20 minutes as Hemsworth clung on to the vital points.
Cain and Coates shared the man of the match honours for Hemsworth, who host high-flying Baildon, the current Junior Vase Cup holders, on Saturday.
Hemsworth squad: Cain, Briscoe, Harrison, Sykes, Hall, Key, Coates, Hooker, Moody, Joburns, Henstock, Taylor, Thompson, Soms, Mears, Hawcroft, Mears, Bennett, Simmons.