Thursday, 17 March 2016

Sunday's Coming: Siddal

Sunday sees Siddal continue their Challenge Cup odyssey at Spotland: and they’re not to be taken lightly. Siddal are amonst the best community clubs in the country: finishing last season as runners-up in the NCL Premier division - one place above Mayfield - and were Conference Grand Finalists, edged out 22-20 by Leigh MIners Rangers.

You can see highlights of that game below

If you’re a Rugby League fan from the North East, you’ve probably had your fill of Siddall this season. Having survived an 18-16 scare to see off Northumbria University, the Halifax side unceremonially dumped Newcastle ‘Blunder’ out of the Challenge cup in the last round, thrashing them 30 to 4. Indeed, but for a late, late consolation try, Thunder came perilously close to the total humiliation of a nilling.

“It was a pretty special performance,” said Siddal coach Gareth Greenwood, whose brother Lee - now coach of  University of Gloucestershire All Golds - was in charge when Siddal won 26-0 away to Doncaster six years ago.

Having played for Huddersfield Giants, Batley Bulldogs and Halifax (where he became the 1,000th player to debut in Super League), Greenwood is a busy bloke these days - with a life consumed, it seems, by Rugby League. In addition to his Siddal coaching duties, he’s also coach at Halifax Elite Academy and the RFL’s National Secondary Schools Manager.

Oh shit! Byron Smith follows through.
Ex-Hornet Byron Smith weighed in with two tries in the win over Newcastle and was labelled “a bit
of an animal” by his coach after the game. Staying with things bestial, he’s remembered at Spotland more for what he did off the field: on his last visit with Batley, Smith took at shit in a litter bin in the Sandy Lane end when caught short during the game.

Confidence is clearly high at Chevinedge, as Siddall come into Sunday’s game having opened their conference season with a 20-10 win at Kells -  who’d not lost at home in the league for three seasons.

Hornets’ most high-profile link with Siddal was through mercurial Hooker Mick Shaw, who tragically passed away four years ago at just 36 years old. Amongst a solid pro-career taking in Leeds, Bramley and Halifax, MIck had an influential two-season spell at Hornets where his punishing speed away from acting half made him a fans’ favourite. He ended his career back at Siddal, where he had a successful spell as first team player-coach and took the club’s second team to Halifax & District’s ’Fee Cup’ final.

Siddall’s ex-Halifax , Keighley and Oldham forward Richard Merville also had a stint at Hornets in 2011.

So what can Hornets expect? Speaking ahead of their game with Siddal last season, Leigh Miners Rangers Head Coaches – Allan Coleman & Paul Whitworth said: “Gareth Greenwood likes his sides to play good rugby, they find the floor well and can control the pace of the match if you play the one-up game. They play with real controlled aggression as well. Speaking to opposition coaches they have all highlighted Siddal as being the best team they have played this season…” Some good insight there.

The Siddall side that won at Kells Last week was:
1. Fred Walker  2. Elliott Jewitt  3. Tom Garratt  4. Benjamin Hinsley  5. Dominic Booth  6. Shaun Garrod  7. Christopher Brooke  8. George Ambler  9. Craig Sanderson  10. Iain Davies  11. Jason Boults   12. Canaan Smithies   13. Byron Smith   14. Benjamin West  15. Conner MacCallum  16. Jack Georgiou  17. Danny Richardson

Our three to watch are:
Siddal skipper Shaun Garrod (stand- off): England Community Lions captain and has steered Siddal round for eight years after returning from Halifax.
Chris Brooke (scrum half) Garrod’s regular partner in the halves for the last five years, Brooke can also play at fullback if required. Supplies Siddal’s kicking game.
Jason Boults (Second Row) Hardworking backrower familiar to Hornets fans - he was formerly the backbone of Oldham’s pack, playing 193 games over eight years for the Roughyeds.

With the dregs of Super League coming into the Challenge cup in the next round, there's still the chance of a decent payday against Leeds, Hull KR and Huddersfield who currently languish in the bottom four. So there's no place for complacency. Newcastle found out what happens if you don't take games with top quality community clubs seriously - and we don't want to be the story in Monday's papers.

Alan Kilshaw's Hornets were good value for their thrashing of Coventry and a performance echoing the first half there will be required if we're to avoid the banana-skin. Up for the cup? Too right we are - see you Sunday.