After seven weeks without a home fixture, Hope Valley defeated Burnage 31-29 with a fine comeback win to climb out of the relegation zone.
Strengthened by the long-awaited return of club captain Ben Somerton, who was making his first appearance of the season, Valley’s pack were dominant with the front row of Adam Russell, Andy Woodall and Josh Mosley destroying the opposition’s scrum.
An inevitable breakthrough came from the familiar site of Somerton charging over from a tap penalty. Dave Ryder added the conversion.
The score, however, galvanised the opposition and, defying the conditions, they ran at every opportunity, resulting in a pacey winger crossing for a try.
It rattled Valley’s composure, but an opportunist 50-metre solo try by scrum half Elliot Fisher relieved the pressure to make it 14-5.
Burnage dominated the rest of the first half, forcing Valley into making errors, and scored two tries to lead 15-14 at half-time.
Worse was to come for Valley. Having already lost Andy Woodall to a yellow card just before the break, Elliot Fisher was also the recipient of a contentious sinbinning and Burnage took advantage of the extra two men to score two quickfire tries.
From 29-14 behind, however, the introduction of Matt Keeley’s direct running changed the shape of the game.
The centre scored two tries, one from a quickly-taken tap penalty, the other from a deft offload by Somerton.
With five minutes remaining the home side trailed by three points, but powerful forward drives led to Somerton crashing through.
Valley’s man of the match was Fisher, who put in a superb display, both in attack and defence.