North Shields open group stage with win

North Shields have been chosen to represent Northumberland in the RFU National Senior Vase with the final at Twickenham the prize on offer.

The first stage is a pool stage with opposition from Durham and Yorkshire, and Shields kicked off their campaign with a home tie against Hartlepool BBOB.

Shields were boosted by the return of hooker Gavin Irving and captain Mark Hall in the pack.

Hartlepool enjoyed the wind and sun advantage in the first half and started the brighter to score an early try.

Hall was next to score for the hosts and level the scores at 5-5.

Then the visitors scored two converted tries and a penalty to take charge of the match and lead 22-5.

Shields hit back before half-time with tries from flanker Ben Dalton and prop Carl Cramman, Gavin Duffy was successful with one conversion as the half ended 22-17.

In the second half Shields enjoyed the slight advantage of the conditions and took a penalty kick to narrow the deficit to two points.

They then took the lead with a try from Irving, and with the conversion by Duffy they were ahead.

But an unconverted try for Hartlepool levelled the scores at 27-27.

But Shields were not to be denied the victory and the winning score came from flanker Josh Stewart, with the extras were added by Duffy and that made the final score of 34-27.

It was a well deserved win for North Shields and the whole team played well.

They scored some excellent tries and defended well against a side that never gave up.

Man of the match was jointly awarded to Ben Dalton and Carl Cramman.

Shields travel to Yarnbury in February for their next match in the competition, looking for a win that will seal their place in the quarter-final stage.

Next week Shields return to league action with a trip to Seaton Carew.

Meanwhile North Shields Crusaders are through to the quarter-finals of the Northumberland Junior Shield.

The holders were due to play Border Park in the first round on Saturday but the opposition were unable to field a side.

They also return to league action this Saturday with a trip to play Blyth 3rds.