Injuries disrupt Shields as Rockcliff win Malcolm Flockton Cup

ON a windy sunny afternoon on a bone dry pitch, North Shields and Rockcliff contested league points and the Malcolm Flockton Cup.

Rockcliff welcomed back to the pack Drew Hayton, Paul Ellwood with fit again veteran Stu Thomson on the bench alongside Lewis Partis and Dan Atkinson.

Shields came to Hillheads determined to give Rockcliff a game, doing what they do best in disrupting the home pack and keeping possession away from the speedy red and gold backs, but unfortunately their game plan was disjointed by injury with them having to use all their substitutes in the first 30 minutes.

In the first quarter the game was tightly contested, Rock went ahead with a Hayton try when he broke from midfield and powered over.

Shields responded as Ryan Ramsey made a fantastic break down the short side.

From the resulting breakdown Hall wisely decided to immediately pick the ball from the base and found himself powering through a gaping hole to score

Rockcliff replied when former Shields player Dale Harrison raced away to level the scores at half-time.

Rockcliff coach Tom Rendles was not a happy man at half-time and calmly expressed his desire for the team to go back to basics, keep recycling the ball, go through the phases, and pile on the pressure.

The interval talk was taken to heart by the red and golds and they came out of the traps a different team.

After two minutes they had a seven-point lead when Jonny Birkett went over for his seventh try in three matches, converted by skipper Andrew Webster.

The versatile Josh Donnelly then burst through the Shields defence to add another, followed by a Paul Ellwood effort following a tap penalty.

By now the Shields defence was having difficulty controlling the bursting runs from the Rockcliff centre Ricki Hasnip, his presence creating havoc in the Shields defence.

Coach Rendles was able to bring on substitutes, and Stu Thomson, Dan Atkinson, and Lewis Partis joined the game.

But credit to Shields, they never gave up the fight and scored a try of their own to reduce the deficit to 34-15.

An excellent lineout move in the Rockcliff half led to Duffy brushing his way past several Rockcliff defenders to score.

But two tries from speedster Steven Scott, and another from Donnelly put the home side out of sight.

The forwards were now dominant and camped in the Shields half, resulting in a penalty try.

The final try was scored by Hasnip after a fine break by Ross Skene, both players having good second periods.

The final score was 58-15 as Rockcliff ran in ten tries with skipper Webster converting four.

The cup was presented by Malcolm Flockton’s daughter and grandson to the winning captain Webster, and two players were awarded the man of the match awards, Harrison, and Donnelly, who between them covered every blade of grass, made numerous crunching tackles and stole a great deal of ball at the breakdown, especially sweet for the former against his ex-colleagues and team-mates.

Rockcliff next face Seghill at home in the County Cup, and the next league match will be at Blyth away in two weeks time.

Meanwhile, North Shields travel to Consett on Saturday.