By Ian Golden at Aberavon Greenstars
Despite a gallant effort by the home side, making their debut in the Challenge Cup, Ince Rose Bridge ran out comfortable winners by in this first round tie at the seaside ground scoring four tries to the Irish’s one.
In Stuart and Frank Cassidy, Rose Bridge had players with a wealth of RL experience and ultimately it was the greater technical knowledge that proved to be the difference in spite of the courage and commitment shown by the Fighting Irish, battling to the very end, that will serve them well in their next Summer Conference campaign.
For the Fighting Irish Jason Hill, Scott O’Kelly and Richard Hibbard were strong runners and none were braver in the tackle than Sean O’Brien and Richard Lewis However, their limited experience at this level was evident throughout the match and effectively the result was decided by half time with the Wigan outfit being sixteen points ahead through tries by Chad Derbyshire and Stuart Cassidy both converted by the reliable boot of Frank Cassidy who also kicked two penalties.
Despite some heavy rain the spectators were captivated by the quality of football and the physical encounter served up by the two sides. Excellent refereeing by Craig Halloran, Batley who allowed the match to flow and showed empathy to the limited experience of the home side, contributed to the spectacle. Further tries after the break by Frank Cassidy and substitute Chad Else put paid to any hopes of the Irish making a little sporting history but their never say die attitude would have made them many new friends.
A consolation try by prop forward David Hawkins with 10 minutes to go was no more than the Irish deserved, but on this occasion they had to settle for second best to a well drilled and skilful Rose Bridge for whom man of the match Carl Roden was an impressive performer.
Summing up the occasion Fighting Irish secretary John O’Callaghan said: “We were beaten by a better organised side on the day but the occasion was a most enjoyable one.”
“Our boys displayed courage, commitment and passion and at this stage in the club’s development just to have played in this prestigious trophy has been a great honour. We have learned a lot and will be a stronger team for our involvement. Ince Rose Bridge have given us a standard to which we can aspire and we wish them well in the rest of the competition. Some great friendships have been forged and ultimately, that is what this great game is all about.”