South Wales Scorpions performed well despite losing their first game at Blackwood RFC 16-29 to Championship 1 league leaders Hunslet Hawks on May 11.
The bottom club were in the game for the 80 minutes and were unlucky to lose and not pick up a bonus point on a poor pitch.
A rugby union game staged on the ground the day before had cut up the pitch and it was only passed fit 90 minutes before the match, thanks to hard work from volunteers Ian Lovell, Ian Newbury and Richard Nuth.
Hunslet’s Andy Ballard, the player who had complained about the pitch, scored the first try on the left wing, but missed the conversion.
The poor pitch stopped the teams playing much running rugby but eventually Hunslet battled their way upfield with Luke Stencheon forcing his way under the sticks.
Ballard converted for the visitors to go 10-0 up.
The Scorpions struck back when Paul Emanuelli’s kick found Jordan Sheridan under the posts to score a try. Emanuelli converted to put Scorpions just four points down at the break.
Both teams went down to 12 men just five minutes into the second half as Connor Farrer and Liam Hood were sin-binned for starting a mass brawl.
Hunslet made best use of the open space after Lee Brickwood ran in a try from close range.
The Hawks continued to try and increase their advantage and Jimmy Watson and Andy Ballard had tries disallowed for forward passes.
Watson eventually scored the Hawks’ fourth try on 73 minutes and Ballard goaled to put the Hawks 14 points up.
Mishandling from the Scorpions in the final five minutes killed any chance of getting the two points they needed for a bonus point.
Blackwood RFC will host the Scorpions again on Saturday June 21 against York City Knights in what will be the Welsh club’s 100th professional game.
• Match report by Ian Golden