Newcastle Thunder 18 Workington Town 16

Workington Town were left to rue a lapse of discipline as they exited the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at the third round stage on Saturday evening, with a 72nd-minute penalty allowing Newcastle Thunder to take a narrow 18-16 win.

Town had seemingly put the tie beyond doubt with just over a quarter of the match played, with a three-try blitz putting them into a comfortable 16-0 lead after they absorbed the pressure applied by the home side in the early exchanges well.

Finding their feet in attack, Town were on the board with 11 minutes on the clock thanks to a nicely taken try from Jamie Doran.

Latching on to a soft pass from Stuart Howarth, the half-back sold Derrell Olpherts a nice dummy to break Thunder’s line and through the attempted tackle of Benn Hardcastle, before repeating the trick and changing direction to wrong foot Lewis Young and give him an unopposed run to the line.

The west Cumbrian’s extended their lead 10 minutes later thanks to Joe Hambley, with a simple dot down of a kick through from Doran, who spotted his winger out wide in space, as the Thunder defensive line bunched up further in field.

Having enjoyed the better start, the hosts were showing signs of panic at 10-0 down and on the next set, over-eagerness and miscommunication allowed Town to score a mightily impressive try.

Offloading in contact, Howarth’s pass found the waiting hands of Theerapol Ritson who scythed his way past two defenders into clear air, before timing his pass to perfection to release Callum Phillips.

With the conversion added, the home side managed a try themselves on the half hour, as Young latched on to a pass and arced his way to the line, with the touchline conversion successful.

Thunder again scored within two minutes after the restart through Jack Aldous, who showed plenty of strength to barge his way over the line and twist himself to ground the ball.

With the match finely poised, the momentum was swinging the home side’s way, though stoic defence from Town was forcing errors from Thunder and thwarting their efforts to overhaul the remaining four point gap.

A well-judged 40/20 kick from Hardcastle on the hour provided a platform for Thunder to level the scores thanks to Derrell Olpherts, with the big centre dotting down a kick through from scrum-half Danny Nicklas as the Town defence was stretched.

With no replays in the competition, the prospect of golden point extra time sparked both sides into final flourishes in an attempt to seal the match in regular time.

Town almost sealed it with a try thanks to a searing break from Stevie Scholie, who embarked on a mazy run from his own 40m line to get within 15 of the Thunder try-line.

Only just being closed down by the Thunder defence, it seemed that Town must score, but over-eagerness from try scorer Phillips at the play the ball saw him knock on, allowing Thunder to clear.

The hosts then penalised the let off, as Town were penalised for interference and Hardcastle sunk the two points that knocked Workington out.

It was a disappointing end, but on the evidence of this match, Workington and Thunder should prove strong contenders in the upcoming Kingstone Press League One season.

Newcastle: Young, Brown, Parker, Olpherts, Fox, NIcklas, Hardcastle, Kilday, Simons, McAvoy, H Aldous, Clarke, J Aldous, Teroi, Rennie, Waller, Barron

Tries: Young (27) J Aldous (42) Olpherts (60)

Goals: Hardcastle (27, 42, 72)

Town: Ritson, Hambley, Chamberlain, Davies, Rooke, Doran, Howarth, Coward, Phillips, Scholey, Phillips, Shelford, Singleton, Dowsett, Forber, Curwen, Fitzsimmons

Tries: Doran (11) Hambley (17) Phillips (21)

Goals: Chamberlain (11, 21)

Penalty Count: 10-12

Half-Time: 6-16

Star Man: Jamie Doran