ROCKCLIFF maintained their unbeaten start to the year when they welcomed high flying and unbeaten Consett to Hillheads and produced a magnificent performance against a young Consett side, full of confidence in what has been a great season for them. The visitors played their part in producing a fine game of rugby, with no quarter asked or given, and from the spectators point of view this was a match which had everything; drama, tension and fine rugby.
The Rockcliff pack welcomed back Stu Thomson, returned from injury to partner Neil Thornton in the second row, Karl Briggs, the versatile Josh Donnelly, and Jonny Birkett, as the breakaway forwards, behind a front row of Dan Timney, Neil Mather, and Drew Hayton. Daniel Simpson at scrum half, captain Andrew Webster at 10, and an unchanged back line of Steven Scott, Bryan Stewart, Ricki Hasnip, Ross Skene, and Richard Berne, were pumped up from the beginning of the game and took the match to Consett straight from the kick off.
Kicking down the hill the red and gold forwards hit the Consett pack at full tilt, possibly surprising a Consett team who realised then that this was going to be a tough match. They too upped the intensity as they were not going to roll over and let their unbeaten record go without a fight, and after an infringement by a Rockcliff forward it was Consett who put the first points on the board with a well taken penalty.
Back came the red and gold’s, Steven Scott off loading well in the tackle to release skipper Andrew Webster who scampered over for a try in the corner, for 5-3 to Rockcliff with 15 minutes gone.
Rockcliff kept up the momentum and forced a penalty on 25 minutes which Webster coolly slotted home for 8-3. The Rockcliff backs were getting good ball as a result of forwards great work, and, as half time approached, a flowing move released winger Steven Scott deep inside his own half and he was off, producing a turn of speed that had the large crowd gasping in wonderment, racing 60 metres down the wing leaving all in his wake, to touch down under the posts, a magnificent effort and surely a contender for one of the tries of the season at Hillheads. Webster converted to leave the half-time score 15-3.
The Consett coaching staff rallied their team in the half time interval, as the Rockcliff coach Tommy Rendles had predicted, and they pounded the Rockcliff line, breaching it only once with a well worked converted try under the posts to make the score 15-10.
The red and gold’s defence was outstanding as wave after wave of Consett attacks were repulsed by stupendous tackling by every team member, Karl Briggs and Josh Donnelly tackling everything that moved, but in fairness every member of the team did their bit. It was a great performance and Consett threw everything they had at the Whitley Bay team, resulting in a great spectacle of rugby.
In the last five minutes of the match Consett were camped on the Rockcliff five metre line but could not get over the gain line into the goal area due to a resilient and inspired home defence. Eventually the pressure was relieved and the pack moved up to the halfway line, and following a solid scrum Dan Simpson hoofed the ball into touch.
The Rockcliff players were ecstatic, Consett dejected, but can return back to the land of Phileas Fogg with their heads held high. They did everything they could to maintain there proud record, only to be thwarted by an outstanding performance by Rockcliff.
Thomas Rendle and his staff picked out Stu Thomson and Neil Mather as men of the match. Next week Rockcliff travel to Whitby.