NORTH Shields made the long trip to a cold and windy Barnard Castle for their 12th game of the season.
There was a question mark about whether the match would go ahead due to the bad weather throughout the week, however, to Shields’ delight the hosts confirmed the game was on.
The Blues knew this was going to be a tough fixture as Barnard Castle is never an easy place to visit, with the big forwards and sloped pitch.
Last time Shields played Castle they lost heavily, however, Shields have grown immensely as a squad over the past few months.
The starting 15 did face late changes due to non-availability from props Carl Cramman and Harry Watson, which allowed Dave Alder to make his first appearance for the first team this season.
The match kicked off and in true Barnard Castle fashion their forwards trucked it up the park and maintained control of the ball during the opening stages in the game.
Shields’ defence from the off was outstanding, with some great up front tackles which made it hard for Castle to stamp their authority on the game.
As Castle began to become frustrated Shields started to play some great attacking rugby both in the loose and out wide.
The first try of the game was from a training ground move where Gavin Duffy brilliantly dummied the centre and then looped a pass to rampant Dale Jones on the wing, who powered his way up field to score in the corner.
Within no time Shields were pressuring the Castle defence again and for a second time Dale Jones was too much to handle for the host’s backs as he scored his second try under the sticks.
From this point in the game Castle began to wake up and utilise their big pack once again and this paid off as a driving maul from a lineout was converted in the far corner.
Shields heads did not drop, as they attacked straight from the restart with some ruthless running and crunching tackles.
In one of the last plays of the half skipper Mark Hall picked and went blind and span a pass out to Gavin Duffy who once again put Dale Jones away for his hat-trick score.
The second half saw some hard hits from both sides as Castle started to believe they were still in the game.
The Shields side’s attack was proving too much and the hosts had no answer to the relentless forward loose play which resulted in Mark Hall crashing over the line for the forth try to secure the bonus point.
In the remaining 20 minutes of the game the hosts showed their passion by playing to the last whistle with one more converted try.
However, on the day Shields had too much for Barnard Castle and the win, with tries and winning margin bonus points, moved them up to joint fifth in the table.
Joint men of the match were Richard Carr and Ben Dalton who were both exceptional throughout.
Dalton put in some hard hits and carried the ball very well and Carr, as usual, turned over a lot of ball and covered every blade of grass.
Next week Shields visit Ashington for an important match between the sides lying in fifth place.
North Shields RFC is always looking to welcome new players to the club, young or old, experienced or novice.
Anyone interested in going along to play, training sessions are at 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Or contact the club on (0191) 257 7352, or via the website www.northshieldsrfc.co.uk