Bonus point in defeat keeps Rockcliff in second

Rockcliff salvaged a bonus point and held on to second place in Durham and Northumberland Division 2 on Saturday as Ryton clinched promotion and the league title at Hillheads.

The visitors opened strongly and dominated from the start.

After having an early try disallowed for a forward pass they went ahead on ten minutes when Andy Gable crashed through the Rockcliff defence to score by the posts, which Lewis Barr converted for a 7-0 lead.

Rockcliff suffered a further set back ten minutes later when stand-off Bryan Stewart went off with a knee injury.

The back line was shuffled with Dan Leach coming on at outside centre and Andrew Webster moving to stand-off.

Meanwhile Ryton kept up the pressure and only some good tackling kept them at bay, but they eventually found a way through and second row Matt Oxley was in support of an attack to score in the right hand corner to make it 12-0.

A penalty from Barr on 35 minutes extended the lead and the side’s changed ends with Ryton 15-0 up.

The second half opened with an opportunity for Rockcliff to peg the score back, but Webster was unlucky to see a penalty from wide on the left drift just wide of the post.

But the Red and Golds kept up the pressure and forced another penalty which Webster slotted home.

Rockcliff’s pack began to put the pressure on in the scrum and this gave the back line time and space to get some moves together, with Steven Scott was a constant threat down the left wing.

Ryton managed to hold on until the 75th minute when Scott eventually crossed the line to score an unconverted for 15-8.

A grandstand finish was launched as Rockcliff chased a second try but Ryton held out and clinched the win.

Rockcliff travel to Hartlepool next week, and then on April 19 face a crunch game at home against third placed Sunderland, who are five points behind in third place but have a game in hand.