Vikings just hold off Blaydon challenge

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Rockcliff Vikings fought their way to another win this week, this time in a bruising encounter against Blaydon.

The Vikings started brightly keeping the visitors pinned in their own 22 for the opening ten minutes of the match and could have had a brace of scores if it was not for some resolute defending.

Eventually Blaydon turned over the ball and kicked deep into the Rockcliff half. It was now the Vikings’ turn to defend, in a mirror of the opening ten minutes.

Strong tackling from Matthew Dunbar, Mick Knott and Nick Dalton ensured Blaydon did not cross the line.

There was no separating the teams until David Neasham pounced on a loose Blaydon pass giving Rockcliff vital turnover ball just inside their own half.

The ball was quickly recycled and passed on to Karl Briggs, who hit a gap at pace and broke through the defence and beat the full-back with his trademark windmill dummy. Chris Forster added the extra points.

The Vikings started to play with their tails up and could have had several more tries as Sam Heppell and Simon Tindall jinked, bobbed and weaved through the opposition but to no avail due to an effective Blaydon scramble defence.

The score remained the same until the closing minutes of the half when Briggs took a quick tap penalty and span the ball wide to the backs who had men over.

The Blaydon defence drifted quickly, neutralising the overlap, but winger Rob Straker spotted the drift defence and straightened his line beautifully to score under the posts. Forster again adding the conversion.

Blaydon made some good tactical substitutions in the forwards and concentrated on keeping the ball in the tight. This worked to great effect and they trundled in a well worked forwards try just wide of the posts in closing minutes of the half to trail 14-5 at the break.

Blaydon started the second half as they closed the first, their strong catch and drive working to great effect.

The Vikings stopped them just short of the line this time and managed to steal the ball before passing on to Forster who cleared his lines.

It was Rockcliff on the score sheet next when a free kick from a scrum infringement was taken quickly by Neasham. The ball was spun down the backs to Tindall who stepped inside his opposite number and passed behind his back to the supporting figure of full-back Rhys Wiley, who sprinted the remaining 30 yards to slide in at the corner.

Blaydon continued to pile on the pressure in the forwards and were rewarded with a further two tries.

As the game drew to a close tensions started to mount and a brief spell of handbags broke out, forcing the referee to show two red cards in the last minute of the game.

Man of the match went to Harry Elliot, who was excellent under the high ball and ever present on the crash.