Battling display makes it eight wins in a row

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ROCKCLIFF made it eight wins in a row when a much changed Bishop Auckland visited a windy Hillheads in an attempt to stop the home’s current run of good form.

Rockcliff themselves rang the changes, Duncan Jordon returning to the front row, Lewis Partis at scrum-half and Paul Ellwood at openside flanker replacing the versatile Josh Donnelly who was carrying a injury.

Donnelly started the game on the bench with Dale Harrison and Dan Atkinson.

The red and golds started well, taking the game to Bishop Auckland, and after four minutes a scrum near the visitors line resulted in the backs spinning out the ball and then switching it back inside for Karl Briggs to crash over in the corner for an unconverted try and a 5-0 lead.

Rockcliff were dominating the opening stages of the game and it was no surprise when Jonny Birkett went over for a try following a solid scrummage under the posts, converted by skipper Andrew Webster for 12-0 after 22 minutes.

At this stage it looked plain sailing for the red and golds, but back came Bishop Auckland and from there on they upped their game and started to put pressure on the home defence, finishing the first half the stronger team.

With the wind behind them and going down the hill the large crowd were worried that the Rockcliff run of form was looking like it was coming to an end.

And with only 12 points on the board many felt that Bishops could overturn the deficit.

Coach Tommy Rendles thought that Rock needed 20 points at this stage, and called for extra effort during the half-time team talk.

The visitors spent the rest of the game camped in the Rockcliff half, scoring two penalties but they could not breach the Rockcliff line.

This was heroic defence from the entire team who battled hard to maintain their winning streak.

Bishops did not use the elements to their best effect, failing to convert a number of penalties and missing touch on numerous occasions when they could have put more pressure on the Rockcliff defence.

Bryan Stewart and Ricki Hasnip were outstanding in defence, and Chris Keen stepped up to the plate on the wing, making a try saving tackle late in the first half.

Harrison added extra pace when he came on, tackling anything that moved and putting his body on the line on numerous occasions.

Veteran Briggs played two positions, at scrum-half in the second period of the match, but played like the flanker he is, again putting his body on the line.

The last ten minutes were played out under intense Bishops pressure, with Neil Thornton in the sin bin for handling in a ruck.

But the red and golds held out for a good win, dug out of inner resilience and determination.

Richard Berne was voted the Rockcliff man of the match as he did not miss a tackle, was defensively excellent and a real threat when joining the line.