Nine-man Eagles earn a cup replay

WITH five players unavailable, the Wallsend Eagles under-12s rugby league team turned up at Cramlington Sporting Club with only nine players – but they were ready to give their all against Cramlington Rockets who sportingly agreed to play with 11 instead of 13 players.

The Rockets kicked off the cup tie and Tom Wood, back after an absence through injury, stormed through the home defence to give the visitors the early lead.

It got better as Matty Smith shrugged off the disappointment of narrowly missing the conversion to cross the line to give the Eagles a great start and a two try lead, the kick again going just wide.

The Rockets started to use their numerical advantage and were soon in the lead with three tries and two conversions.

But the Eagles’s heads did not drop and they got back into the game with some great tackling.

A storming run up the wing by Kieron Wrightson set up Wood to cross over for a try, which was converted by Smith.

With a minute to half-time Wood completed his hat-trick, crossing the line to give the nine man visitors an 18-16 lead.

But the Rockets responded with a try and conversion to regain the lead.

After some strong running from Ben Mahdoul, Kyle Bradley was just stopped an inch short of the line, he rolled it back to Smith who crashed over from short range.

The home team hit back with a try in an end to end game which either side could win.

The Rockets crossed again then Smith managed to just sneak in at the corner to complete his hat-trick after some good play from Wrightson, but again the angle was too tight for the kick.

The Eagles were camped in the home half looking for a another try, but a pass was cleverly intercepted by the speedy Rockets winger who proceeded to run half the length of the pitch to score under the posts, with the conversion added.

With the clock ticking down the Eagles were deep in the opposition’s half.

Smith was stopped a metre short of the line, he rolled the ball back to Kyle Bradley who powered over for his first try of the season.

It now fell to Smith to kick the conversion and bring the scores level with the clock on zero – and he did not let his side down.

After some deliberations amongst the coaches it was decided that a replay would be the fairest decision so the final score stood at 32-32.