A DEPLETED Tarleton second XV triumphed in their opening game of the season at the weekend, writes Jeff Gordon.
Despite being down to the bare 15 for the match the side started their campaign with a 23-15 win against Rossendale.
A Dan Cromack hat-trick proved crucial as the hosts fought back to win, inspired by the return of Matt Parker to Carr Lane.
Despite having no substitutes and with players forced to play out of position Tarleton played well considering there were only three recognised backs among them.
For the first 10 minutes neither side could break through and it was only through a defensive error following a winning line out in their own 22 that Tarleton gifted Rossendale five points and the lead.
This spurred Rossendale on and the visitors started to play some good forwards’ rugby, keeping the ball alive at all times.
The pressure eventually told and a second converted try was scored to put Rossendale well on top at 12-0.
Tarleton woke up at this point and realised they needed to move the ball more themselves.
A certain try was stopped by the ref’s whistle as Sam Tyrer broke through the Rossendale defence, only to be brought back for a penalty eight metres from the Rossendale line.
The penalty was duly slotted and the score was now 12-3 as Tarleton scored their first points of the season.
Rossendale started to tire and good counter-rucking by Tarleton and, most notably, Parker saw a good ball won and quick hands saw Cromack go over for his first try of the day to make it 12-8.
This was the score at half time when an inspiring half-time team talk by Mike Foreman, pointing out how the game could be won, rallied the hosts.
His words had an immediate effect on trailing Tarleton, who were quickly on the scoresheet after play resumed.
From the kick off the ball was caught by Chris Gordon who made good yards before flipping a pass to Parker.
Parker continued the break by returning the ball back inside to Chris Gordon who timed a perfect pass to Cromack.
Cromack beat the final Rossendale defender to score a converted try and give Tarleton a 15-12 lead.
Ten minutes later Rossendale were awarded a penalty in the Tarleton 22 and levelled the score to 15-15.
From this point Tarleton played some great rugby with support players everywhere and some good lines being run by the proper and stand-in backs.
This resulted in a good forwards’ try for Dean Fox and a good break from No.8 by Gordon gave Tyrer the space to kick over the advancing Rossendale defence and score a good individual try.
The score was now 27-15 and the final try completed Cromack’s hat-trick following some more good counter rucking by the Tarleton forwards.
Man of the match was Parker who made a welcome return after a season out of the game.
TARLETON’S first XV faced a stern challenge at Burnley and came away with a creditable 31-27 win as their campaign kicked-off.
THE seconds will travel to Wigan this weekend where they will be hoping to push on from Saturday’s win.
The first XV are at home against Trafford Metrovic, who had a good win on Saturday and will present a good marker of what the firsts might do this season.