Haydock put in an admirably spirited performance to defeat Shaw Cross Sharks in the first round of the Challenge Cup.
The Sharks, who defeated local rivals Dewsbury Celtic in their first pre-season fixture last weekend, were outplayed by a determined visiting side who were roared on by a vocal away following from Lancashire.
They showed their intent to go toe-to-toe with the Sharks early on, and scored the first try after eight minutes. Dean Dollin, who was a thorn in their side throughout, was kept out by scrambling defence on the line, but Danny Davies then danced through to score with Steven Jones adding the extras.
The Sharks eventually began to gain a foothold in the game, and after putting pressure on the line to no avail the defence forced Haydock back over their own line following a turnover. From the drop out, they moved the ball left and Sam Ottewell took on the line and twisted through to dot down.
Just short of the half hour mark, both sides saw a man sent to the bin. John Travena deservedly saw yellow for a high tackle, while the Sharks’ Elliott Richardson was more harshly directed to the sidelines for running in.
The home side were first to take advantage of the open space, with hooker Dec Naughton burrowing over the line to take the lead and Callum Barker adding the conversion.
However, back-to-back tries in the final three minutes of the first half changed the complexion of the game going into the break.
Despite having little attacking position in the previous 20 minutes, Haydock were effective when they did as Stuart Simmons went over, with Jones converting to put them back in front.
Just seconds later they were over the whitewash again, as a sweeping break across the field was finished off by half-back Andrew Bacon. Jones' kick made it 18-10 at the interval.
Haydock made a good start to the second half as well, and were celebrating when Danny Gee thought he had touched down. The referee consulted with his touch judge though, and they ruled that the Haydock forward had been held up.
It was the visitors who eventually got the next try though and it was a superb solo effort from Dollin which left the Sharks on their knees, as the centre weaved across the line before rounding the winger and sprinting in to touch down. Jones’s conversion made it 24-10.
There was still life left in Shaw Cross, however, and Logan Stephenson wriggled free from tacklers to score on the left after good work from Barker, with Ottewell reducing the deficit to eight.
The hosts kept the pressure on their opponents, but they continued to be undone by errors as they tried to force passes to break down a determined Haydock defence.
They were fortunate to still be in the game when Haydock broke through in midfield, with a number of offloads seeing Michael Sexton close to the line but desperate defending managed to keep him at bay.
The Sharks weren’t taking chances at the other end though, and the tie was settled with eight minutes to go when Connor Smith sprayed a cross to the right wing and Karl Dinsdale dived over in the corner to wrap up the win.
Updated 19:04 - 26 Jan 2019 by Stephen Ibbetson