Shaw Cross Sharks head coach Zach Johnson believes there were “more positives than negatives” to take out of their 24-10 Challenge Cup defeat at Oulton Raiders.
Steven Talbot and Ross Roebuck scored tries for the Sharks but it wasn’t enough to beat a tough Oulton side as their cup run came to an end.
“I think there are more positives than negatives to take. Yes we lost, but there are a lot of lads still getting used to our systems,” said Johnson.
“The attacking shape is fundamental. We’ve implemented our defence, last week we conceded no points, today we conceded a couple, some off kicks and some off constant repeat in defence.
“Today was a good test to see where we are and I think it just highlights how much we need to improve our attack, but overall I’m still confident on how we’re going to perform this year.
Oulton started brighter and got the first try as Jordan Gayle played in Lee Gomersall to break through the defence and score underneath the posts, with Tom Egan adding the conversion.
However, the Sharks were soon back in it as Johnson offloaded to Talbot, who forced his way through numerous tacklers to crash over the line. Shaun Squires added the two to level the scores.
From there Oulton started to take control of the game, and they regained their lead when Dominic Flanagan broke through the defence to run in and score, with the Egan conversion giving them a six-point lead.
Egan made that eight before the break with a penalty, after clashes which saw Oulton’s Will Ingleby sin-binned.
The Sharks had a penalty of their own on the verge of half-time from much further out, but it was put wide.
The home side were pushing again at the start of the second half and it required strong Sharks defending to keep them out. Eventually they found a way to the try line, as a high kick from Andrew Williamson was taken in the in-goal area by Flanagan for his second try of the game.
The conversion was unsuccessful, which kept the deficit down to two converted tries. The Sharks kept believing and pushed for a way back into the game, and found it when Ross Roebuck made a brilliant burst down the right wing to score, although a tricky touchline conversion was put wide to put the score at 18-10.
Sharks continued to push but defeat was confirmed by another Oulton try, as Josh Lancaster broke and passed to Chris Hope to score. Egan missed the conversion but slotted another penalty soon after to round off the scoring.
Updated 12:04 - 11 Feb 2018 by Ben McKenna