Newcastle Thunder claimed a 28-18 victory over Whitehaven at Kingston Park in a match forced to end early after an injury to Ollie Gowing.
It took the hosts 10 minutes to open the scoring, and it was debutant Ukuma Ta’ai, who fended one defender off carried two over with him to score. Matty Wright hit the conversion for a six-point advantage.
Eight minutes later, that lead was doubled as Lewis Young used his turn of pace to get through the line and get over. Wright scored the conversion.
Just before the break, Whitehaven pulled back into it, as Andrew Bulman finished a good move off out wide. Lachlan Walmsley scored the conversion to half the deficit.
But the final word of the half would go to the Thunder, as Sam Wilde showed good footwork to evade the defence and get to the line. Wright scored the conversion to give the Thunder their 12-point lead back heading into half-time.
Five minutes into the second half, and Thunder started in the same way they started the first half, with an Ukuma Ta’ai try. This time, the former Huddersfield man picked up the ball and dove down to score. Wright missed the conversion for the first time in the afternoon.
10 minutes later, Whitehaven hit back again, as Bulman scored another acrobatic effort in the corner. Walmsley hit the touchline conversion to bring the visitors back to within 10 points.
Young then grabbed his second try, as he intercepted a kick from halfway and ran through to score. Reece Dean scored the conversion to stretch Thunder’s lead back out to 16.
But Whitehaven showed their fighting spirit with an instant response. Jesse Joe Parker skipped around the defence to get through and score. Walmsley scored the conversion to make it a 10-point game with 20 minutes to go.
The game was then stopped after a serious injury for Ollie Gowing, with both sides expressing concern. After being down for over 10 minutes getting treatment, the decision was taken to end the game early, with Newcastle coming out winners.
That match will definitely provide confidence to the Thunder, as they hope to assert themselves in the Championship. They start their Challenge Cup campaign next week at Swinton Lions.
As for Whitehaven, there were some good moments in the match for them, and they will hope to focus on that when they welcome Dewsbury Rams to start their Challenge Cup adventure next week.
Newcastle Thunder: Lewis Young, Cian Tyrer, Matty Wright, Calum Turner, Jack Johnson, Josh Woods, Reece Dean, Mikey Wood, Evan Simons, Nathan Wilde, Sam Wilde, Ukuma Ta’ai, Liam McAvoy.
Subs: Ted Chapelhow, Connor Bailey, Rhys Clarke, Joe Brown, Alex Clegg, Evan Hodgson, Cole Oakley, Ollie Gowing, Jake Anderson, Issac Nokes.
Head Coach: Eamon O’Carroll.
Whitehaven: Lachlan Walmsley, James Worthington, Sean Croston, Jesse Joe Parker, Andrew Bulman, Karl Dixon, Greg McNally, Ethan Kelly, Sam Dowsett, Dean Zammit, Liam Cooper, Ellis Gillam, Tom Wilkinson.
Subs: Callum Phillips, Glenn Riley, Chris Taylor, Dion Aiye, Marc Shackley.
Head Coach: Gary Charlton.