Cadishead Rhinos 24, Blackpool Sea Eagles 22
BLACKPOOL’S play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after ending their regular Rugby League Conference season on a losing note.
The second-placed club wiped out Blackpool’s 22-6 advantage in 11 second-half minutes in a gripping North West Division contest which saw man of the match Dean Dollin bag 14 points.
Defences were on top early, with bone-shuddering tackles from both sides.
Blackpool broke the deadlock after seven minutes, when powerful drives from Scott Dollin and Nathan Gemmell provided the impetus for stand-off Dean Dollin to dance through the defence and convert his own try.
Blackpool then conceded a stream of penalties but produced some tremendous goal-line defence before the Rhinos eventually drew level.
The visitors came roaring back, with Dean Dollin and half-back partner Michael Jones producing some excellent kicks.
Blackpool regained the lead as half-time approached, Jon Cherry and John Iddon doing the groundwork for centre Anton Garcia to power over. Dollin again added the extras to make it 12-6 at the interval.
The Sea Eagles stretched their lead as more fancy footwork brought a second try for Dollin, following excellent runs from Antony Clark and Jack Emery.
Blackpool continued to look threatening and moved 22-6 ahead when Gary McLoughlin scythed through, following breaks by Ste Galvin and Paul Carmody, and Dollin added his third goal.
But Cadishead hit back strongly in the final quarter, as their large pack and more penalties pinned Blackpool back. Despite heroic defence from Tom Sanderson and David Frodsham, the Rhinos scored three converted tries.
Garcia had a late try in the corner ruled out for a forward pass as the match ended in disappointment for Blackpool, though this was far closer than the sides’ previous meeting.
Blackpool must now wait on the outcome of Saturday’s Chester v Cadishead game to see if they can hold on to the final play-off spot.
*FLEETWOOD Sharks could not raise a side for their RLC Merit League derby with Blackpool Stanley.
*Favourites Wigan will face arch-rivals St Helens in the semi-finals of the Carnegie Challenge Cup on August 6 or 7 after Saints thrashed Hull KR 54-6 yesterday. The other semi will be another derby between Leeds and Castleford.