ROCKCLIFF Vikings notched up their fifth win in as many weeks against local rivals Wallsend in a thrilling match at Hillheads.
Rockcliff started well and in only the second or third phase of the game broke through the Wallsend defence as captain Simon Tindall took the ball wide at centre. Dummying the winger, Tindall straightened his line and popped to the supporting figure of Craig Tomlinson who was clear in under the posts, unfortunately Tomlinson’s hands let him down on this occasion and the referee pulled them back for a Wallsend scrum.
Minutes later Sam Heppell sliced through the defence in what is turning to be his trademark move, picking a great line and running in under the posts untouched. Converted by Rhys Johnstone.
Johnstone added a further three points from a penalty kick after a high tackle on Heppell in front of the posts.
Wallsend’s strength clearly lied with their big pack who dominated the lineouts and utilised the simple catch and drive to great effect. The visitors eventually being rewarded with a try of their own after 20 minutes.
Rockcliff learned from this and span the ball wide at every opportunity allowing the pacey backs to run at the visitors defence, Tomlinson and Dan Johnstone making good. Unfortunately on one occasion Dan Johnstone ran the ball deep into the Wallsend half forcing his opposite number to put in a good tackle and the resulting handbags saw three players sin binned.
Scrum half Lewis Partis pounced on this opportunity and, spotting a gap at the back, put in an inch perfect box kick for Chris Marsden to collect and score.
Not to be outdone by the backs, Dave Swinburn at number eight followed suit and with the ball in hand and the crowd shouting for the “3 B’s” (bish bash bosh) Swinburn bull-dozed his way through the Wallsend pack taking would be tacklers with him.
The start to the second half could not have been better for Rockcliff as an infringement at the kick off gave the Vikings a penalty. Wayne Turnbull, spotting an overlap, took the quick tap and passed wide to Tindall who drew the Wallsend winger before popping to Marsden to race down the touchline for his second of the game.
Rockcliff had clearly upped the pace of the game and the visitors pack struggled to keep up and unfortunately for them a well contested first half turned into a one sided second as the Vikings ran in a further four tries in quick succession. Rhys Johnstone and Lewis Partis crossing the line and a further two from Heppell completing his hat-trick.
This match was a prime example of the old adage “forward win matches, backs decide by how many.” Wallsend struggled with Rockcliff’s pace out wide but if it wasn’t for the graft put in by the forwards, the back would not have had any platform to work off. Mark Wickett the stand out player of the day, fully earning his man of the match.
Next week the Vikings face Blaydon at home who have had similar results against the same opposition. This will be a tough contest for the Vikings who are more than up to the challenge.