Rockcliff back on top after hard fought win over Hartlepool

Rockcliff moved back to the top of Durham and Northumberland Division 2 with a hard fought victory against a big Hartlepool BBOB side that pushed them to the wire.

Coach Jack Lambert was again forced into changes with Niall Stokes, Josh Donnelly, Alex Meadows, and Jordan Anderson all unavailable due to injury, so in came Thomas Dawson, Neil Mather, Mathew Bradley, and Stuart Thomson after a long lay-off.

Neil Thornton,Chris Keen, Kai Downey-Stephenson, Jonny Eames, who played his second game for the club, Bryan Stewart, Andrew Webster, Steven Scott, Ricki Hasnip, Jonny Earnshaw, Ryan Yellop, and Andrew Telford completed the team. The bench comprised of the Andy and Lewis Partis, and Dan Atkinson.

Hartlepool BBOB are a big unit, and their strings very efficiently pulled by their half back paring, and throughout the game were a very big threat, so Rockcliff had to work hard to overcome them.

The first try after 17 minutes went to BBOB who using their strengths to keep the ball in the forwards before releasing one of their backs for a dart over the line. At this stage the Rockcliff lineout was having problems and BBOB stole many a home ball, but the fit again Stu Thomson eventually stole one which led to the versatile Downey-Stevenson smashing through the BBOB backs to score under the posts. Captain Andrew Webster converted for 7-5.

By this stage the home crowd were wondering how long it would be before the large BBOB pack tired, and certainly after 35 minutes when Ricki Hasnip went over for an unconverted try through a mismatch in midfield, it looked as if they would be struggling in the second half. But no, after the break, back they came to level the score, and after 50 minutes gone it was 12-12.

Webster then missed a close penalty before Rockcliff number eight Jonny Eames smashed his way over for a try, taking the score to 17-12.

BBOB would not let it lie and back they came again playing to their strengths in forward play to score again for 17-17 after 62 minutes, and the game ebbed and flowed with both teams looking dangerous, especially Pool when the ball was played in their pack.

Rockcliff winger Stephen Scott eventually did get away and looked certain to get over for a try but the referee blew for foot in touch but the Red and Golds kept pressing, and with only five minutes of play left Andrew Telford went over for Rockcliff’s bonus point try, and 22-17.

There was still time for BBOB to mount a charge and this they did, and a frantic final few minutes were played out in the Rockcliff 22. The referee finally blew for full-time, much to the relief of the Rockcliff fans.

Mathew Bradley was voted overall man of the match by the Rock management, he gave his opposite number all sorts of problems.

Rockcliff face North Shields away next week, and expect a tough local derby.