Barbarians push the Eagles close in friendly encounter

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Rugby League friendly

Wallsend Eagles 23 Whitley Bay Barbarians RLFC 20

The last game before the league got under way saw the Whitley Bay Barbarians make the short trip west to Wallsend Eagles.

It was always going to be a tough test for the Barbarians, facing opposition from the league above and even though the game was a friendly, a tough physical encounter was always going to be on the cards.

Both teams off started putting in big hits on their opposition, however a combination of some good defence work from Wallsend along with Whitley’s handling errors saw the Babas camped in their own half for much of the opening stages of the game. The pressure by Wallsend was eventually rewarded with the first points on the board after some big drives and quick hands in the backs, leading to a try which went unconverted (4-0).

The response from Whitley could not have been better. From the resulting kick-off, Gavin Duffy sent in an almost perfect kick which was knocked into touch by Wallsend. From the resulting scrum, Whitley took a few drives before Ian Hardisty crashed over to even the scores at 4-4, Duffy narrowly missed with the drop-kick conversion.

The game kept up the physicality that was set in the early stages however the rate of set completion from both sides was not one either could really be happy with, through handling errors and penalties conceded. The next score of the game went to the home side, gaining good field position before utilising the backs to score in the corner, with the try again going unconverted (8-4).

Once again, Whitley responded to going behind by putting the next points on the board, with Anthony Jordan touching down after making great yards with a powerful drive, Duffy added the extras to make it 8-10.

Again, the home side showed just what they could do by taking the next score this time going over in the opposition corner, making their numbers in that position count and taking the score to 12-10. Once again, Whitley would not be put off by this and after working to gain a good field position, Gavin Duffy put up a bomb-kick into the Wallsend goal area, which was taken and grounded by Jonny Dubois. Duffy added the extras again to make the score 12-16.

Wallsend finished off the half with another score of their own. From a fifth and last play, the Wallsend hooker tried to force his way over the line, however managed to offload the ball when Whitley thought they had the situation sorted, resulting in the home side scoring another try to take the scores at half-time to 16-16.

The second half carried on from where the first one left off with big hits still flying in from both sides. Whitley were the first team to get on the board after the interval, starting out their set less than 10 metres from their line. Some good running in the set from Adam Eglin saw the Babas advance up the pitch before going over in the corner, with some excellent work from Duffy setting up Ben Dalton, who went over to make the score 16-20, conversion missed.

The rest of the scoring of the day was done by the home side. Having an extra man on the pitch due to Duffy being in the bin, Wallsend made their numbers advantage count with some good work down the right side, resulting in another try for Wallsend, which was converted to make the score 22-20. As the game reached the end, both sides were doing all they could to gain that all-important next try, however with the last play of the game, Wallsend slotted home the field-goal to finish off the game (23-20).

Overall, the Babas could be pleased with their performance on the day against a strong Wallsend side, with the stand-out performances coming from Anthony Jordan, Gavin Duffy and debutant Dave Anderson. Whitley started the defence of their Division Two title away to Gateshead Storm A in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final on Friday, May 1.

Whitley Bay also played their first game in the new shirt sponsored by local company Whites Burners Ltd, which was established in 1902 as a burner manufacturing company.