Rockcliff win a tense and exciting contest

ANOTHER must win match for the Red and Golds finished with the points in the bag for Rockcliff as they edged out visitors Yarm on Saturday 23-21.

This was a tense, exciting match, with both teams realising the importance of the result and giving their all to the final whistle.

The Rock team welcomed back the experienced Neil Mather, Drew Hayton, Neil Thornton, and Karl Briggs into the starting XV.

Josh Donnelly again impressed at fly-half, registering the first points with a penalty in the 12th minute.

But he was then penalised for a late tackle three minutes later before Mark Simpson-Daniel side-stepped a number of Rock defenders to go over under the posts.

Donnelly atoned for his earlier discretion by slotting home another penalty, and in the subsequent minutes Jonny Birkett went over for a try after a great break by Bryan Stewart.

Yarm hit back with a try of their own from Jonny Bond, which was converted by Hall.

At this stage it was obvious that Yarm possessed speedy backs, but the Rock forwards were in the ascendancy and completely dominating their opposing pack.

What developed was a match of attrition, the Rockcliff forwards grinding down the Yarm pack who were becoming more and more frustrated and eventually having their blindside flanker binned for a high tackle on Lewis Partis.

The Rock forwards piled on the pressure, driving the Yarm pack back at will.

The visitors continued to collapse scrums, and mauls and eventually paid the price when from a reset scrum the forwards drove the ball over the line for Briggs to touch down, Donnelly added the conversion to make the score 18-14.

The game was far from over, though, and after Ricki Hasnip was given ten minutes in the bin for a shoulder charge the Yarm backs exploited the space for Mark Simpson-Daniel to race over for his second try.

The Rock forwards, though, were not to be denied and took the game back into the Yarm half and camped on the five-metre line.

The game went to uncontested scrums as Yarm had used all there substitutions and had no front row replacements, which removed that particular Rock threat.

But the forwards continued to power forward and after a period of pressure on the Yarm line the ball was passed through several players to release Richard Berne to go over in the corner, making the score 23-21.

In the closing moments Yarm threatened from an uncontested scrum but Briggs beat Simpson-Daniel to the ball to recover what could have been a try scoring situation.

The game ended seconds later much to the relief of the large Hillheads crowd.

Man of the match was Bryan Stewart, but mention must go to Karl Briggs who by the end of the game had Simpson-Daniel in his pocket.

Coach Tommy Rendles, 62, was full of admiration for his team afterwards, and urged that they keep this form until the end of the season.