A LARGE crowd gathered for Rockcliff’s last league match of the season and the annual ‘Alickadoo’ dinner.
And they were not disappointed with the result, which ultimately decided the league standings of these two teams.
An emotional Drew Hayton led the team for his last match as club captain.
They welcomed back Neil Thornton in the pack, along with Ian Ramsey, Dan Atkinson and Liam Bowman, Richard Berne, Chris Marsden and Ross Skene in the backs.
The game started with Bishop Auckland playing down the hill with a strong wind behind them, and as one member of the crowd had observed it could be a 20-point wind proved to be the case with the visitors running in a try and converting a penalty in the first quarter.
Rockcliff forwards struggled to get into the game and they suffered a set back when Thornton needed to be replaced by Paul Ellwood as his long standing shoulder problem meant he was unable to continue after 12 minutes.
Using the wind, Auckland ran in another converted try, and after slack play by the Rockcliff forwards the visitors were awarded a penalty under the posts, which they duly converted.
At half-time the score was 18-0.
The Rockcliff forwards, following coach Tom Rendle’s inspirational half-time talk, sprang into life, and were back to the dominant forwards of previous matches.
And within five minutes of the restart Ellwood reduced the deficit with a well worked forward drive, duly converted by stand-off Andrew Webster.
The platform was secure and the ball was quickly transfered to full-back Berne who carved a gap in the defence to go over for a fine individual try.
Webster was beginning to find his range and slotted a penalty to make it 15-18.
The visitors were on the rack and the Red and Gold’s were rampant.
Ross Skene, the flying Scotsman, was next up, side-stepping two defenders for a fine try, converted by Webster to put Rockcliff in front at 22-18.
This was followed by a fine handling move along the back line involving good work from Ricky Hasnip and Josh Donnelly, and they span the ball out to Dan Timney who touched down, again converted by Webster.
With the score at 29-18 Rockcliff saw out the remainder of the game, to finish the season on a high and record a good win.
A game of two halves mirrored Rockcliff’s season, which saw them win only two games in the first half of the season, and six in the second.
Next season the club hopes to have all players back, and with a lot of the younger players coming through, that blend of youth and experience should lead to an exciting time for the club.
Jonny Liddicoat will join the coaching staff next season to help Noel Mather and Rendle, and the club has thanked Drew Hayton for his period as captain.
Club awards for the season will be made at the presentation night on April 29, and the season will finally close after the Super 10s tournament on Saturday, May 14.
WHITLEY BAY ROCKCLIFF 2nds 20
RYTON 2nds 31
THIS was a narrow defeat for the Vikings, who conceded a late converted try.
All the Rockcliff points came from Aidie McKeown who scored three tries, one conversion and a penalty.
Matt Dunbar had a fine game at flanker, and the pack was well marshalled by San Heppell. Man of the match was outside centre Nick Dalton.