Betfred One knockout football was hosted in Newcastle as the Thunder took on Workington Town for a last semi-final place against Doncaster next weekend.
There was a couple of belting matches between these two sides on back to back weekends earlier in the season which saw Workington triumph on both occasions but only by the narrowest of two and one point margins. When the sides last met it was at Kingston Park when it was the home side who scored a 48-10 win on the 30th June.
Newcastle finished the season eight points ahead of todays opponents and were favourites for the win today and the chance to have another shot at Doncaster, especially as Workington only arrived with a squad of fourteen players.
Workington were offside from the kick-off, a possible indication of referee Child applying the letter of the law.
Just one hundred seconds were on the clock as Kieran Gill got a hand on a Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e grubber kick to ground for the first try. Rhys Clarke added the extra two for the best of all possible starts for Newcastle.
A delightful flowing move saw Workington strike back when Harry Singleton carry downfield and passed back inside to Blaine Marwood to run the last thirty and score by the left upright to complete a seventy metre try. Carl Forber added the extra two to level the scores.
A fabulous double step from Nick Newman saw him break the line and get the ball on the ground after a period of relentless Newcastle pressure. Clarke was again accurate with the boot for 12-6.
Thunder were doing all the early running and attacking. On twenty minutes Newman was over for his second as he confused the Workington defence and went through a gap from five metres after taking the ball at first receiver. Clarke added the conversion for 18-6.
A superb kick return from Lewis Young took Newcastle to half way. Over the next four tackles the home side moved the ball to the Workington line and Laulu-Togaga’e was on hand to get the ball over the line with a stretch. Clarke added the conversion for 24-6.
Gill got his second on thirty-three as the Workington flood gates opened. QLT was the provider with a terrific inside pass which eventually ended up in Gill’s hands for him to go through the defence and ground. Clarke pushed the kick across the front of the sticks for his first miss.
A great effort from Perry Singleton saw the centre back his way over the line off a short kick-off, carrying three tacklers with him in the process. Forber added the conversion for 12-28, the visitors still well adrift in a free scoring first half.
Workington came out of the dressing rooms refreshed after their break and initially took the game to Newcastle but an off he ball incident gifted the ball to the home side inside the Workington twenty. Harry Aldous went close before forcing a goal line dropout.
As Workington tired, Newcastle started to dominate possession and field position. On fifty-eight Alex Clegg found space to score on the overlap down the left wing giving Clarke a difficult kick which he was unable to land.
In torrential rain there was a break for a double injury before Workington scored through Andrew Dawson as he reacted the quickest to ground a Sean Penkywicz grubber kick. Forber added the extra two for 18-32, but it was too little, too late.
Gill completed his hat-trick in monsoon conditions, as if the result wasn’t already a foregone conclusion. Clarke added the extras in almost impossible conditions for 38-18 with a couple of minutes of the game remaining.
Sam Luckley was sin-binned for a late challenge as the final hooter warmed up to conclude proceedings.
It will be Newcastle Thunder who make the trip to Doncaster next weekend to battle for the final place in the all-important Grand Final promotion decider and a chance to play in the Betfred Championship next season. It has been a brave fight by Workington but you can’t play at this level of intensity for eighty minutes with a squad of fourteen players.
Thunder: Young, Clegg (T), Brown, Gill (3T), Tualapapa, Laulu-Togaga’e (T), Newman (2T), McAvoy, Carlile, Aldous H, Edwards, Clarke (4G), Luckley (SB on 80). Subs: Simons, Fitzsimmons, Aldous J, Rowe.
Workington: Bolton, Marwood (T), Barnes, Singleton (T), Walsh, Doran, Forber (2G), Dawson (T), Penkywicz, MoiMoi, Scholey, Maudling, Hopkins. Subs: Lancaster.
Referee: James Child.