Rockcliff 18-21 Ponteland
Rockcliff were just edged out in an exciting Northumberland County Senior Plate Final at Novos, with both sides playing their part in a gripping encounter.
Ponteland opened strongly, but after weathering the storm Rockcliff dominated the next 15 minutes and a penalty for either side made it 3-3.
Ponteland forced a second penalty, again scored by Chick to ease in front. With the clock running down in the first half, Rockcliff needed to close out the half without conceding but as the defence was sucked in by a series of forward drives Ponteland span the ball wide and Joe Probert broke through to touch down, unconverted, for an 11-3 lead at the break.
Playing against a strong gusting wind, Rockcliff had their work cut out, but they responded well, running the ball at every opportunity, with Dan O’Sullivan leading the charge with some aggressive direct running. A break involving O’Sullivan, Chris McCAbe and Josh Donnelly had the Ponteland defence back pedalling, and as the forwards back upped, Niall Stokes crashed through to score for 11-8.
Ponteland were using the wind to good effect, kicking deep into Rockcliffs half, and from a scrum on Rockcliffs five metre line, Richard Moller picked up and bulldozed through from short range to restore Ponetlands lead. With Chick adding a the conversion, Ponteland were now 10 points clear at 18-8.
But once again Rockcliff responded with some powerful direct running, and they worked the ball up the field and forced a penalty five metres oit, and from a quick tap Dan Simpson popped the ball to Liam Bowman who ran a great line to touch down under the posts, converted by Donnelly to reduce the deficit to three points at 15-18.
Again from the restart, Ponteland kicked deep and pressed Rockcliff back. They worked the ball left and made space for Nick Townshend to snipe a drop goal. The game was drawing to a close and again good running play from Rockcliff saw the ball worked upfield. Rockcliff forced a penalty in front of the posts which Donnelly slotted home for 21-18, but despite Rockcliff’s best efforts to score, Ponteland held out to win.