NORTH Shields quickly learned the lesson that promotion from Durham and Northumberland League division three as champions last season brings with it a higher standard of opposition as they were beaten in their first league game of the season.
Barnard Castle, who finished third in division two last season, were well drilled with a big pack and pace in the backs.
They kicked off and immediately put pressure on the North Shields defence.
The visitors handled the ball well, retained possession and looked for gaps in the North Shields defence.
And they found one after five minutes as their outside centre took a pass with space in front of him and he accelerated through the gap for a try which was converted.
Barnard then looked to consolidate the lead by electing to take a kick at goal when North Shields’ forwards were penalised at a breakdown, but the kick went wide of the posts.
At this point North Shields were not getting much clean ball and they knew they were in for a hard afternoon.
However, the home side knuckled down and fought hard for possession.
Although both sides pressed hard to make a breakthrough, neither side could penetrate each others defence until ten minutes before half-time when Barnard Castle moved the ball quickly out of defence and found a hole in the North Shields three-quarter line to score a second converted try and take a 14-0 interval lead.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Barnard Castle cutting through the North Shields defence for an early converted try and then both sides striving to make a breakthrough but with defences holding firm.
With three quarters of the game gone Barnard Castle scored their fourth try in the corner, which they were unable to convert.
This galvanised the North Shields team and they pressed forward looking to put points on the board.
With time running out they finally breached the Barnard Castle defence for fly-half Gavin Duffy to take a scoring pass under the posts and then add the conversion points with a drop kick to make the final score 7-26.
On Saturday North Shields are away to Winlaton Vulcans, kick-off 3pm.