NORTH Shields Artisans hosted local rivals Whitley Bay Rockcliff Rangers in the semi-final of the Northumberland Rugby Union Junior Challenge Trophy competition on Saturday.
Rockcliff had the advantage of the strong wind blowing down the pitch in the first half and they used it to good effect.
Swinburne’s tactical kicking to the corners kept North Shields pegged back in their own 22 for much of the first half.
Rockcliff got the first points on the board when North Shields were penalised at a scrum and Rob Burns’ penalty kick was successful.
This spurred the North Shields pack and they drove up the pitch in retaliation.
Rockcliff were penalised at a ruck and then marched back a further ten metres when a comment was heard by the referee to give North Shields an easy opportunity to level the scores which they duly took.
This was to be the only North Shields score of the first half as Rockcliff continued their policy of kicking to the corners and keeping North Shields on the defensive.
A five-metre scrum to Rockcliff resulted in quick hands from Carruthers and Politch to allow Garry Whittle to dance over in the corner for an unconverted score.
Rockcliff increased their lead to 3-14 with two further successful penalty kicks from Burns.
Shields came back strongly and the No. 8 was wrongly adjudged to have not grounded the ball on the Rockcliff line, although excellent work from Mcfarlane made it a difficult call for the referee.
Then just before half-time the visitors scored their second try through Russ Hill, which was successfully converted by the boot of Burns for a half-time score of 3-21.
North Shields now had the elements in their favour but did not utilise this advantage with the same expertise as Rockcliff had in the first period.
Accordingly they did not put Rockcliff under the same pressure they had faced in the opening 40 minutes, and it was not until the last few moments of the game when they managed to reduce the arrears when replacement centre Simon Morgan raced over for an unconverted try to give a final score of 8-21 to Rockcliff.
Rockcliff Rangers will meet another North Tyneside in the final on March 31 when Percy Park Penguins are their opponents.