NORTH Shields welcomed Bishop Auckland to Preston Playing Fields looking to build on their slow start after a promising pre-season.
The game kicked off in perfect conditions and it was Bishop that did the early running, an astounding tap tackle from Ben Dalton preventing Bishop crossing the Shields line in the opening minutes.
Bishop continued their pressure and maintained the majority of possession and territory but the Shields defence were on top form and refused to yield.
Shields did mount several good attacks of their own.
Centre Matthew Cornfield made a particularly powerful run and stretched for the line but unfortunately was brought down just a metre short.
Bishop were able to win several penalties throughout the half, putting them 12-0 up at half-time.
In the second half Shields got off to a fantastic start and the trademark maul got the breakthrough they required after several good phases of play. Gav Irving taking the plaudits as he scrambled his way over.
From this point on Shields were on top but continued good kicking allowed Bishop to maintain a lead.
It took a great break from Cornfield in the centre to undo the Bishop defence and offload to his centre partner Peter Finlay to cross.
Perhaps the turning point came in the final 20 minutes when a Bishop kick in the Shields half was charged down. Ricky Handa collected the ball and found Cornfield in support, who was able to offload to Finlay again for his second of the day. At this point the score stood at 17-15 to Shields.
Bishop were clearly shaken and had not expected to be subject to such a ferocious comeback from Shields.
To their credit Bishop came back strong and continued to lay siege to the Shields defence.
It looked in the closing moments that Bishop were about to take the victory after they created an overlap. However, winger Stephen Thompson came out the line and made a fantastic tackle to prevent the try.
From this Shields cleared their lines and romped up the pitch. The ball was fed to Cornfield who crossed for a well deserved try and claim a bonus point victory for Shields.
This was a fantastic performance from Shields and has given the team the necessary confidence they require to go on and progress this year.
The final word must go to man of the match Fenwick Taylor, who was recalled to the first team and put in a superb full hearted performance.
This weekend Shields travel to Yarm.