Newcastle Thunder’s ambitions in the 2017 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup came to an end on Friday night as they fell to a 36-8 loss at Kingstone Press Championship side Dewsbury Rams.
The visitors were left to rue a litany of first half mistakes and missed opportunities as the hosts played the conditions well and give Newcastle a mountain to climb in the second, one that they were ultimately unable to scale.
It could have been so very different had Thunder pressed home their early dominance, which for much of the first ten minutes of the game, saw Mick Mantelli’s side camped squarely within 20 meters of the Rams try line.
Charged down following their opening set of six, a fortuitous roll of the ball saw the hosts kick the ball dead and from the resulting scrum, Thunder were able to make steady progress upfield.
Making a mockery of the driving wind and rain, the Thundermen were able to string together some excellent flowing moves with some exceptional handling skills being displayed and with the hosts failing to maintain discipline, it seemed inevitable that the opening score would go the way of thev visitors.
Somehow, Dewsbury’s line remained intact and after kicking early following a positive run from deep, it was the hosts who crossed for the night’s first score.
Employing some neat pop passes, the Rams opening up a chasm in the middle of the park which was gleefully exploited by Paul Sykes before he converted his own try for a 6-0 lead very much against the run of play.
The home half-back was at the heart of the hosts second score on the quarter of the hour mark, as he again sliced his way through Thunder’s defence with only the determined efforts of Derrell Olpherts preventing him from an unopposed run to the line.
Unfortunately for Thunder, Aaron Ollett, who had previously played for the club as part of a dual registration agreement with Hull KR, was running a good support line and was able to take Sykes’ off load and finish the score.
Taking their lead past two scores with a penalty on the 20 minute mark, the Rams had their tails up and as the half drew to a close, had established a 26-0 lead thanks to converted tries from Brandon Douglas and Dale Morton before Thunder finally struck.
It was a well worked try too, with Thunder again matching their hosts’ handling ability to put Danny Nicklas into a position where a well weighted kick through bobbled enough to allow Tyler Craig to win the race to the line.
Kicking into the face of a gale, Benn Hardcastle was close with his conversion, but was unable to bisect the posts leaving Newcastle 26-4 down at the break.
The second half started much more like the first, with Thunder making the most of having the wind to their backs and effectively containing Dewsbury behind the half-way line. Crucially however, they were unable to find the telling pass that would unlock the hosts defence.
The contest was effectively sealed on 55 minutes with a second converted try for Ollett, who embarked on a nicely angled run that evaded the Thunder defence, however Thunder were stillout to give the Kingstone Press Championship side a game.
A typically bullish run into a tackle from Olpherts allowed faint hopes of a heroic cup fightback to rise on 57 minutes, as he sent three Rams tacklers skittling to the floor before tearing a full 60m to score a superb try, but despite having time, Thunder were unable to find the scores.
Summing up an ultimately disappointing night, the Rams were allowed the final word with a short range effort from James Glover on the stroke of full time.
Thunder will now turn their attentions to the trip to South Wales Ironmen next Sunday and look to maintain their Kingstone Press League 1 winning streak and pace as one of the current top five sides in the division.
Newcastle Thunder Squad
Derrell Olpherts, Joe Brown, Aaron Teroi, Tyler Craig, Peter Fox, Danny NIcklas, Benn Hardcastle, Brett Waller, Lee Paterson, Liam McAvoy, Harry Aldous, Rhys Clarke, Jack Aldous, Evan Simons, Vincent Rennie, Carbyn Kilday, Dan Parker
Thunder Try Scorers – Craig (37) Olpherts (57)
Dewsbury Rams Squad
Josh Guzdek, Alex Brown, Hamish Barnes, Jason Crookes, Dale Morton, Paul Sykes, Andy Kain, Jode Sheriffe, Robbie Ward, Brandon Douglas, Lucas Walshaw, Rob Spicer, Aaron Ollett, James Glover, Mitch Stringer, Dan Igbinedion, Lewis Fairhurst
Rams Try Scorers – Sykes (9) Ollett (14, 55) Douglas (27) Morton (31) Glover (80)
Rams Goal Scorers – Sykes (9, 14, 21, 27, 31, 55)
Attendance - 425