Midlands League Champions Sherwood Wolf Hunt have fully embraced the Challenge Cup and after an unexpected win over Wests Warriors in their opening round game, they had now set their sights on National Conference One side West Bowling from Bradford.
Neither side are strangers to success and both won their respective leagues in 2019 but with a couple of divisions difference in their playing status, it was the visitors who were big favourites to make progress into the third round and the arrival of the Championship One sides.
Conditions weren’t great with persistent rain being a potential leveller and the Wolf Hunt would hope that home advantage could help their quest.
Sherwood Wolf Hunt were on the attack from the first whistle and John-Ross Ward opened the scoring on five minutes with a penalty kick after interference at the play the ball.
But it was West Bowling who grabbed the opening try two minutes later as Dan Gregory stepped through a broken defence to score by the right upright. Harry Williams added the conversion for a 6-2 lead.
The second West Bowling try came on thirteen minutes as Richard Lumb hit a gap off a delayed pass to dive over to the delight of his colleagues. Williams was again accurate with the boot and the National Conference side were beginning to look in full control.
Within two minutes Louis Fraser chimed in out of the line to walk through a tiring Wolf Hunt defence and ground. Williams was unable to add kick this time, the visitors 16-2 ahead. It was all far too easy on fifteen when Jack Milburn found an ocean of space to canter across the fourth try of the afternoon. This time Williams was able to add the extra two.
The Wolf Hunt were thrown a lifeline after a sin-binning for a shoulder charge, but they couldn’t make the man advantage count.
After being awarded a penalty for a late flop West Bowling made the home side pay with Dan Gregory crossing on the right corner for his second of the half. Williams converted brilliantly from the touchline for 28-2.
With seconds left in the half the home side did register their first try of the game when Ward found a gap in the defence but he couldn’t add the extras to his own try and his side went into the sheds trailing by 6-28.
A great break from West Bowling resulted in a foul as the Wolf Hunt tried to slow down the play. After the resulting fracas fast hand saw Joe Hammond over on a massive overlap to ground in the corner. Williams was unable to hit the target but just five minutes into the second half the visitors were already in the bag for the third round.
Tempers frayed as the conditions worsened, the two sets of players starting to resemble one another as their kits merged to a single mud drenched uniform.
A second Lumb try and a fifth Williams goal was edged the visitors to a 38-6 lead as they now looked towards self-preservation, the outcome already in the bag.
Two exhausted sides slogged out the remaining minutes as West Bowling took comfortable passage through to the next round. All credit to the Wolf Hunt who never backed away and never threw in the towel but the higher league opposition were just way too good on the afternoon.
Sherwood Wolf Hunt Scorers: Ward - Ward (1 Goal).
West Bowling Scorers: Fraser, Gregory (2), Hammond, Lumb (2), Milburn – Williams (5 Goals).
Referee: Kevin Moore.