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Pilkington Recs celebrate Grand Final glory after defeating Wigan St Cuthberts 38-16
9:00pm Sunday 18th November 2012 in Sport
PILKINGTON Recs have been crowned amateur rugby league's North West champions.
They defeated Wigan St Cuthberts 38-16 at the Stobart Stadium in Widnes to clinch the title, the first awarded since the bulk of the region's teams switched to a 'summer' season.
It ends a long wait for Recs, whose last top-flight league championship came in 1980.
However, the celebrations were tempered by a serious injury to second row John Pennington in the closing stages that brought the final to a premature end.
He was carried from the field by stretcher with a suspected compound fracture to his lower leg before being taken to hospital.
Recs had held the advantage from early on when John Rees twisted in a tackle after being fed by Jamie Smith.
Ryan Hilliard added to the lead after slick handling and then substitute Jono Peers barged through from hooker Ryan Liptrot's short pass.
It was not all the red,amber and blacks, however, and they had to be on their mettle defensively.
Their line did crack as the half time whistle approached as powerful centre Scott Robinson charged down the right flank and sent Adam Hunt in at the corner.
But Recs forced an error from the restart and Smith offloaded a short pass to send Lancashire scrum half Lynch darting under the posts.
The number seven added his third conversion to leave Recs with a commanding 22-4 lead at half time.
They were rocked on their heels shortly after the break as St Cuthberts struck twice in the space of a few minutes.
Hooker Lewis Sheridan counter attacked from deep inside his own half and sent Mike Scrivens over.
Then Robinson charged over and his second successful conversion reduced the gap to six points.
Recs appeared unnerved and when Rogers glided through only to see his pass to Lynch go to ground with the tryline begging, the anxiety intensified.
But they steadied themselves and another crafty pass from Liptrot sent the outstanding Smith crashing over.
And, when Rogers combined with Andrew Knapper, the centre sent his 17-year-old brother Kyran in at the corner for a try Lynch converted from the touchline, they began to breathe more easily.
To put the result beyond doubt the lightning handling in the three quarters that created the overlap that sent Kel Duffy in was a classy way to seal the victory and the championship to delight coaches Gareth and Kurt Haggerty.
The highly influential Ryan Rogers capped a memorable season by being named the man of the match by the St Helens Domino's Pizza NW Men's League.