ROCKCLIFF’S current run of bad luck and injuries continued in a closely fought defeat to Novocastrians on Saturday.
Missing eight regulars from last season, Rock lost returning flanker Dale Harrison in the first minute due to a back injury, debutant winger Jonathan Earnshaw with a pulled hamstring in the 29th, and centre Ricki Hasnip with a head injury a minute later.
This brought veteran forwards Karl Briggs, Neil Mather, and Liam Bowman into the game.
Versatile Josh Donnelly moved into the centre, Briggs went to scrum-half and Lewis Partis moved to the wing.
Novos too had a number of injuries but seemed to adapt well with their enforced changes.
Kicking down the hill with the wind behind them, Novos started well and went over for a try by Johnny Collier after ten minutes, converted by Don Ballado.
But despite the wind Rockcliff held firm until just before half-time when James Bass scored, again converted by Ballado.
Rockcliff started the second half well when Jonny Birkett barged his way over to score, converted by Rhys Johnstone.
At this stage it looked like Rock could fight their way back into the game, but Novos broke away to score through Ballado to make it 19-7.
The red and golds responded well and man of the match Stu Thomson crashed over to score.
When Johnstone added the conversion it brought Rockcliff to within five points.
But Novos had the final word though when Ben Merrett finished off a good break to score the killer try for 24-14.
NOVOCASTRIANS 3rds 21 WB ROCKCLIFF 2ndS 31
THE Vikings made the long trip down the coast road to play Novos development team in their third Northumberland County River Blyth league match.
The Vikings to put out a strong side and scored five tries through, Duncan Jordan, Sam Heppell, Jordan Anderson, Andrew Telford and Nick Dalton. Chris Forster added six points with the boot in the 31-21 win.
NOVOCASTRIANS 4ths 10 WB ROCKCLIFF 3rds 28
THE Rangers made it two Northumberland County River Derwent league wins in row with a 28-10 win against the Centurions.
Two tries from Craig Tomlinson and one apiece from mercurial Welshman Alun James and Gary Lewis sealed it.
On Sunda Rockcliff and Percy Park co-host the North Tyneside Mini Rugby festival, with the under-six to under-tens games to be played at Percy Park, and the under-11 and 12s games at Rockcliff.