Rockcliff increase their lead at top of table

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Rockcliff increased their lead at the top of the Durham and Northumberland Division 2 by running in 11 tries against a plucky Whitby side on a cold day in North Yorkshire.

Fielding a much changed side due to a growing injury list, coach Jack Lambert put out possibly the lightest, smallest, yet combatative pack ever in the history of Rockcliff rugby club.

Eleven first team players are on the growing injury list and with tough matches against Ashington and Ryton coming up, Rockcliff needed to win this match to maintain top position in the table, and that was exactly what they did with a scintillating display of running rugby that blew Whitby out of the water in the first 20 minutes.

In an open game the eleven tries for the visitors were matched against six for a plucky home side that never gave up.

A good turnout of supporters from Rockcliff saw a young Rockcliff side start in ebullient fashion running in the first try from skipper Andrew Webster at stand off in the first minute of play

By the time 30 minutes was up the Red and Golds had scored five more tries to secure another vital bonus point through scores from Steven Scott, Dan Atkinson, Bryan Stewart,and two from number eight Niall Stokes, with some of the tries made by excellent team play, and others a results of fine individual play. Scrum half Lewis Partis had his best game yet for the club, making good breaks and providing excellent service for Webster and his dangerous backs.

At half-time the score was 12-36 in favour of the Red and Golds, increased straight from the re-start with another try from skipper Webster.

With 46 points on the board Rockcliff relaxed, this was just what Whitby needed and back they came for a period of pressure running in three tries of their own to match the three scored in the first half, their forwards smashing into the smaller Rockcliff pack who gave back as good as they could. The versatile Josh Donnelly went over for a try to increase the lead, there was another for Niall Stokes to complete his hat-trick, and another from flying winger and try machine Steven Scott, 11 tries in all, and six from the home team, what entertainment.

The home team voted for Kai Downey-Stevenson as their man of the match, along with special mentions for Lewis Partis and Niall Stokes.

There is no fixture for Rockcliff next week which means Ryton and Sunderland will have a chance to make up ground as they both have games in hand. For Rockcliff it gives a welcome break and an opportunity for the injuries suffered to Donnelly, Scott, and Webster in time for the visit of Ashington to Hillheads on November 23.