Two county cup final wins for Rockliff RFC

Rockcliff Rangers with the Northumberland Junior Challenge Plate after beating Blyth in the final.
Rockcliff Rangers with the Northumberland Junior Challenge Plate after beating Blyth in the final.

It was a bitter sweet afternoon of rugby for Whitley Bay Rockcliff last Saturday.

The second and third XVs won their respective county finals, the first county trophies for 50 years, whilst the first team recorded a bonus point win at Ashington but slipped away in the Durham and Northumberland Division 2 promotion race as second placed Ponteland won at Bishop Auckland.

Rockcliff on the attack in their Durham Northumberland Division 2 game at Ashington. Picture by Colin Edwards

Rockcliff on the attack in their Durham Northumberland Division 2 game at Ashington. Picture by Colin Edwards

The first team won 36-7, building on a 22-0 half-time lead and scoring six tries in total, with two apiece for Alex Hayton and Charlie Muzzlewhite, and further scores from Andrew Telford and Kai Downey. Josh Donnelly converted three.

The seconds won the Northumberland Junior Shield, beating Ashington 36-22 at Gosforth.

It was a game of two halves with the Vikings dominating the first half and changing ends leading 21-0.

Man of the match Connor Ball scored two tries and Andrew Moore once, with three Chris Forster conversions

In the second half Ashington launched a fight back, but not before Rob Straker has scored Rockcliff’s fourth try of the afternoon, breaking down the left wing to touch down in the left corner for 26-0.

The next two tries came from Ashington through Louie Santos and Jack Rutherford, and with their tails up they went for a third, trying to take advantage of the Vikings being down to 14 men with a player yellow carded.

But Rockcliff managed to hold out and then from a lineout on the Ashington 22, Jonny Birkett bulldozed through for 31-10.

Ashington resumed the pressure and with their pack camped in Rockcliff’s 22, they eventually found a way through and Stu Wood touched down, converted by Danny Thompson for 31-17.

Once again Rockcliff broke out of the Ashington stranglehold and Andrew Moore scored his second try of the game for 36-17.

With the last play of the game, Bryan Merryweather scored Ashington’s fourth, unconverted, try and the game closed out at 36-22.

Meanwhile the Rangers won the Northumberland Junior Challenge Plate, winning 24-19 against Blyth.

As with the other two games that afternoon, the Rangers built up an impressive first half lead, changing ends 19-0 up.

Blyth came back strongly in the second half, but Rockcliff managed to score one more try to keep their noses in front.

Michael Donaldson converted two of the Rangers’ four tries, scored by Ross Bailley, Dan Leach, Marc Michael and flying Yorkshireman Craig Tomlinson.

On Easter Saturday, the first XV look to emulate the success of the second and third teams when they play Ponteland in the County Senior Plate final at Novocastrians, kick-off 4pm.