BURNLEY and Pendle played host to Mancunians on Saturday.
Centre Sam Cartwright’s last-minute try broke the hearts of the locals as Mancunians completed a remarkable fightback to win by the narrowest of margins.
The hosts were leading 26-20 with seven minutes remaining, but influential Mancunians stand off Dave Keane placed an intelligent kick between the Reds full back and winger. A wicked bounce eluded both players, only to fall kindly for the chasing Mancunians who gathered for an easy try.
Burnley and Pendle started brightly, but against the run of play, the visitors went ahead, with the hosts failing to contain the bigger Manchester forwards, who crashed over from close range. The home team hit back almost immediately with Matt Crowley spotting a gap in the defence to sprint home.
The game then settled down to a very evenly-matched contest with Mancunians taking the opportunity to kick a penalty to take an 8-6 half-time lead.
Mancunians started the second half strongly with some tough tackling from Adam Healey and Joe Holden keeping them at bay. An attack down the left was snuffed out when the visitors kicked on the last tackle, and the ball was gathered by Crowley, who broke from his own 20 metre zone and out paced the defence to score under the sticks.
Then a clever kick by stand off Joe Holden early in the tackle count, was followed up by Crowley who hacked on and beat the covering defence to score out wide.
This seemed to galvanise the visitors, and a towering kick by Keane was spilled by the home full back. Mancunians spotted a gap from the resulting scrum, scoring near the posts.
Further Mancunian pressure close to the line resulted in their hooker sneaking over.
After a period of sustained pressure on the visitors’ line the ball found its way to Holden, who powered over carrying two would-be tacklers.
Mancunians restarted, kicking the ball deep into Burnley and Pendle’s half. A quick play the ball saw the ball swiftly moved to centre Jack Wilkinson, who drew the defence and passed to Crowley who raced along the touchline to extend the lead to 26-20.
But Mancunians had other ideas, and after the equalising try, they went over again out wide to snatch victory.