NORTH Shields visited high flying Bishop Auckland in their second game of the new year.
North Shields having won their last four games on the bounce were looking to extend that excellent form and upset the league leaders.
The match kicked off and both sides were fully committed in attack and defence.
In the first ten minutes Shields found themselves enjoying the majority of possession, however, they could not find a way to cross the white wash and open the scoring.
As Bishop Auckland began to pressure the Shields line with some good attacking rugby, the Blues gave away a penalty, which was converted by their kicker who was in excellent form all day.
Bishops then began to play with confidence as their big and mobile forwards began to crash the ball up field.
Shields did hold their own very well in defence, however, the clinical off-loading from the hosts turned out to be too much for the Blues as the home side scored the opening try of the game.
From here Shields began to retaliate as their handy forwards crashed the ball up field themselves and in no time they started to make some good ground.
Auckland gave away a penalty for not releasing in the tackle and Gavin Duffy did not mess around in converting the kick.
Shields continued to pressure the home defence and they were awarded another penalty this time for an offside infringement.
Duffy kicked for the corner giving Shields a lineout approximately 20 metres out. From here Shields scored a fantastic training ground move with Duffy crashing over the line.
Just before half-time Bishops found themselves in Shields territory but the Blues gave away a penalty and the on fire home kicker converted again.
As the second half kicked off Bishops began to take control of the game, playing some great all round rugby.
They dominated possession and began to utilise their strong maul.
Their backs also continually attacked the Shields defence so it was only a matter of time before the hosts scored their second try of the game, when they found a hole in the Shields backline.
Shields number eight Andrew Leitch had to leave the pitch due to concussion and was replaced by Anthony Jordon.
Auckland once again turned the pressure up with some great interplay from both the backs and forwards and they scored two further tries after several quick and decisive offloads.
Shields were hit by another injury as flanker Mark Cryer had to leave the pitch to be replaced by Barry Elliott.
Shields to their credit did not give up throughout the game and this was rewarded when Ben Dalton scored a great individual try as he crashed through several Bishops players to touch down under the posts.
Shields then gave away a penalty on the 22 metre line for a late tackle and the home kicker kept his 100 per cent record by kicking the points.
Auckland then went on to score their fifth and final try of the game when their big second row crashed over the line and the points were added by the kicker.
On the day a very strong and clinical Bishop Auckland side were the better team and did fully deserve their win.
This proved to be the toughest test of the season so far for the young Blues side against a team that will probably secure promotion at the end of the season.
This weekend Shields host Seaham at Preston Playing Fields where they will look to get back to winning ways, 2.15pm kick-off.
North Shields RFC is always looking to welcome new players to the club, young or old, experienced or novice.
If you’re interested in coming along to play, training sessions are at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Or you can contact the club on (0191) 257 7352, or via the website www.northshieldsrfc.co.uk