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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Rangers’ week to remember

AMBITIOUS Egremont Rangers are aiming for a top-half finish in amateur rugby league’s flagship league next term after securing promotion as champions to the National Conference Premier Division.

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CELEBRATION TIME: The Egremont Rangers team celebrate after lifting the first division trophy

Coach John Brocklebank is showing faith in his young team by looking for more than simply survival at the elite level next term, after an emphatic win over visitors Wigan St Judes in their last league outing of the Division One campaign on Saturday ensured their move up.

“We are looking forward to it,” Brocklebank said. “We’ll have to develop and improve, and I think we will.

“We are looking to finish in the top half of the league. We want to make Egremont a fortress and give teams that come up here a very tough time.”

Egremont used 40 players this season with classy kicker John Paul Brocklebank scoring 256 league points, bagging 25 tries from 17 appearances.

“We scored 921 points this season, which reflected the entertaining style of rugby we play,” the coach added. “We’ve had an excellent year overall, and I’m delighted for the lads.”

Former Newcastle Falcon Peter Murphy was outstanding in the centres this term and was named man of the match last weekend by the St Judes coach, despite Leon Crellin’s five-try haul.

Wingers Jack Stainton and Ryan Barnes also impressed this term, as did hookers Dan Telford and Alistair Leak, while Brocklebank Jnr and international team-mate Rhys Davies, at full-back, showed their undoubted class.

Matthew Bewsher was arguably Egremont’s most improved player in the pack, where Richard Farrer, the ex-Haven and Workington Town prop, led from the front.

“I’d like to thank all our supporters this year, they have been fantastic, home and away,” Brocklebank Snr continued. “They have been like our 18th man and I think they are the best supporters in the country.”

Rangers fans were out in force at the Recreation Ground on Tuesday night when Egremont edged past Kells 12-8 to book their place in the Challenge Cup second qualifying round.

Brocklebank said: “It was a forward game, both sides hitting it hard down the middle and never stopping. At the end I thought they might have pinched it, but we came back well.

“I will give credit to the whole Kells team, they were brilliant. It was one of those games where there would only be something small between the sides, and I was pleased it wasn’t the referee, to be honest.

“He was giving penalties in front of the sticks both ways, and that can spoil things. I wouldn’t have liked to win on a penalty, that wouldn’t have been right.

“I was pleased for our guys, they worked their socks off. We have struggled a bit with injuries and they put a full stint in. Matty Palmer at loose-forward was outstanding, as was 18-year-old prop Tom Whalley, who played many more minutes than I would normally play him. He played around 60 minutes and full credit to him. I think he was my outstanding forward.”

See page 43 for match report, more pictures and report on Egremont Rangers clinching the division title.

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