ROCKCLIFF made it 12 straight league wins in a row and made up for losing the county plate final in a tight game against Wallsend.
Missing half the regular side after six games in three weeks, Rockcliff gave a first team league debut to young Rhys Johnstone at fly-half and brought in Lewis Partis, Chris Keen, and Jack Lambert on the wing, with various players moved around.
They also welcomed back Paul Hardcastle from injury, who benched with Liam Bowman and Richard Berne.
Missing a lot of regulars this was bound to be a disjointed effort from Rockcliff, but the fringe players showed what improvement they have made and stood firm under a lot of pressure from Wallsend.
A large crowd gathered in blustery weather at Hillheads but with the Red and Golds feeling the effects of all these recent tough games, Rockcliff struggled to produce the running rugby that has scintillated the fans since last December, and on the way beating the newly promoted Blyth and Consett, and allcomers home and away.
Wallsend started well, forcing back the Rockliff pack, but they were unable to convert their pressure into points.
The match carried on in similar vein in the second half and the Rockcliff youngsters eventually ground out a result.
The three substitutes all made a good impression and following breaks by Bowman and Hardcastle, the versatile Josh Donnelly broke the Wallsend defence and headed for the line only to be stopped short with skipper Andrew Webster on his shoulder.
Fortunately winger Lambert, playing like the flanker he is, was on hand to pick up the quickly recycled ball and dart over for a try, converted by Webster.
Rockcliff saw out the rest of the game for win number 12 in a row, finishing the league with the best defensive record by conceding the least points.
Dale Harrison was voted man of the match and praise also went to coach Tom Rendles and his assistant Noel Mather.
Saturday sees the annual players’ dinner, preceded by an over-30s against under-30s game.
northumberland senior plate final
MEDICALS RFC 27
WB ROCKCLIFF RFC 19
ROCKCLIFF lost out to Medicals in the Northumberland Senior Plate final.
Medicals, playing a division above Rockcliff, got off to a great start with a try after five minutes.
After 20 minutes Rockcliff had settled and a catch and drive produced a try for veteran prop Drew Hayton.
Missing the versatile Josh Donnelly, and having to play Dale Harrison on the wing, Rockcliff lost a lot of impact at the breakdown, and Medicals capitalised.
Scrum-half Dan Simpson was outstanding, tackling way above his weight and gradually Rockcliff came back into the match with every member of the team upping his game.
In the second half, Bryan Stewart scored his trademark try, bursting through the Medicals defence.
Coach Tom Rendles was able to ring the changes after his side had played four games in two weeks, and substitute Alex Meadows crashed over for a try to bring Rock back into the match at 19-17.
At this stage with ten minutes to go lit ooked like they could go on a win the game.
Unfortunately a wayward pass was intercepted and Medicals raced away to score a killer try and see the game out with a last minute penalty for a 27-19 win.