A YOUTHFUL looking Rockcliff side entertained third placed Redcar and finished worthy 28-17 winners.
Coach Jack Lambert rang in the changes, bringing Chris Pearson and Andrew Moore into the front three alongside veteran hooker Neil Mather, Simon Cormack and Chris Keen in the powerhouse, and with Karl Briggs, the versatile Josh Donnelly, and Jonny Birkett as the breakaway forwards.
Lewis Partis stepped up at scrum-half with Richard Berne continuing at stand-off, and behind him came the try scoring machine Steven Scott, captain Andrew Webster, Simon Tindall, Jonathan Earnshaw, and Andrew Telford.
On the bench was Stuart Thomson, Nick Dalton, and Thomas Dawson.
The young team needed the experience age brings, and Mather had his best match of the season, playing in all three front row positions by the end of the game.
Briggs did the only thing he knows, playing exceedingly well, and Tindall, after recovering from a clash on the head, pulled the strings at outside centre with a great performance.
Rockcliff started kicking up the hill into the sun, and after three minutes Partis spread a loose ball to Berne who released Scott who steamed over to score under the posts, converted by Webster for 7-0.
Redcar, who with six games left still have aspirations of promotion, were shocked, but they upped their physical game to respond with a converted try for 7-7.
On 25 minutes the red and golds scored another pleasing on the eye try when the seemingly concussed Tindall started and finished a move linking in with Earnshaw and Berne in midfield to race over, which was again converted by Webster.
By now the forwards, who had spent most of the game on the back foot, found their rhythm and began to get the better of the Redcar pack.
Lambert made a tactical change and Thomson was introduced to start winning lineout ball, which he duly did.
This tactic resulted in some barnstorming runs from number eight Birkett, who at one time ran fully 60 metres handing off the majority of the Redcar pack.
Rockcliff were urged to keep their discipline and to continue playing their game of getting the ball out to the dynamic backs, and with Partis getting to the breakdown quickly and Berne distributing quick ball this resulted in the try of the game.
Donnelly, who was everywhere in the match, turned over a ball with Webster, Berne took the resulting Partis pass and popped it up to Tindall, who burst through a gap, dissecting the Redcar back line, and drew his man before releasing Earnshaw who went under the posts for a magnificent try. Again Webster added the extras and Rockcliff looked almost home, but Redcar fought back well.
They too had a quick full-back and often used the miss-pass to get him involved. And as a result one such move produced a try for 21-12, and then a second effort brought the score to 21-17.
With minutes remaining skipper Webster scored a fine individual try, and the bonus point. Breaking through the Redcar rearguard he jinked past the defenders, carrying the full-back over the line to score under the posts, and he then converted to seal the game at 28-17.
Lambert used his subs well and there were promising performances from Dalton, and Dawson, who proved that they are more than capable at this level.
Partis took the man of the match award, standing out despite a number of other fine performances.
This was a great result for Rockcliff which should stave off any threat of relegation, and they look forward to playing Seaham at home next week.
WB ROCKCLIFF RFC 2nds 19 STOCKBRIDGE RFC 51
ROCKCLIFF Vikings entertained youthful Yorkshire side Stockbridge in a touring game, and gave a good account of themselves despite a 51-19 defeat.
The visitors led 28-0 at half-time, but Rockcliff rallied in the second half, being just edged out 23-19 in that half.
Lawrence Fletcher got the revival on track when he trundled over from five metres out, his girth supported by the powerful presence of Andy Partis.
Dan Johnstone then battered his way through for Rockcliff’s second try, driving through from the edge of the 22.
Not to be outdone, his brother Rhys then sidestepped his way through the Stockbridge defence for the Vikings third try of the game. Chris Foster added two conversions to complete the home scores.