Whitley Bay Barbarians suffered a first competitive loss of the season in a 28-24 defeat to Gateshead Storm A in the North East Cup semi-final.
Both squads fielded strong line-ups but Whitley did not have the benefit of being able to put out a side of National Conference players that included current Maltese internationals.
The game started off with an exchange of handling errors and penalties between the two sides, which saw the Babas defending their own lines in the early stages.
After resisting the early pressure Whitley started to make ground but were met by a solid Storm defence.
The deadlock was finally broken by Gateshead with a try and conversion.
The visitors doubled their lead soon after, powering over on the opposite side.
The Blue and Whites hit back after a bouncing ball was picked up by Matthew Padden who sprinted 85 metres to score. Gavin Duffy added the extra points.
Shortly after, Ian Hardisty was given ten minutes to cool off after a controversial decision led to the prop talking his way into a yellow card.
Storm took advantage of the extra man and scored a converted try to take the score to 18-6.
Despite being a man short, Whitley’s determination was reward when Mark Hall picked up the ball and barged his way through numerous defenders to score his second in two games, Duffy again added the extras to make the half-time score 18-12 to the visitors.
The second half got under way with the home side still down to 12 men.
Fresh out of the sin bin, Hardisty made amends for his earlier indiscretion by picking up the ball and fending off several defenders on his way to the line to score his 13th try of the season. Duffy kicked the extra points to level the scores.
Storm hit back scoring the next two tries to take a ten-point lead.
With time running out Whitley managed to score again through Duffy following up and grounding his own grubber kick through then quickly kicking over the extras to pull to within four, but with only ten seconds left it was too late.
Overall Whitley could be pleased with their performance against a Gateshead Storm first team who play at a higher level on a weekly basis.
The heart, determination, and pure grit showed by the home side was second to none and every one of them could be proud of how they played.
Next it is back to league action and the Babas make the trip to Catterick to take on the North Yorkshire Wildcats on Saturday, June 20, followed by a home game against Gateshead Storm A the following Saturday.