Rockcliff go into the break on top after derby win over Shields

Rockcliff go into the Christmas break holding onto top spot on Durham and Northumberland division two after running in seven tries in a fine display of running rugby against local rivals North Shields.

History was also made as Rockcliff fielded a father and son on the pitch for the first time in a competitive league fixture in the long history of Rockcliff.

Andy Partis and son Lewis went into the record books when Andy joined the fray midway in the second half when coach Jack Lambert called upon Andy to use his experience and considerable size to bolster the Rock pack.

Lewis was performing well at scrum-half at the time.

Local derby matches are never easy and Shields promised that this would be a tough encounter.

Coach Lambert was again forced into changes, Neil Thornton coming into the power room with the rapidly improving and fit again Stuart Thomson, Liam Bowman coming in at eight for his first game of the season, skipper Andrew Webster moving to centre, Tom Pike making his debut on the wing, and Jordan Anderson joining Dan Atkinson on the bench.

Try machine Steven Scott is injured and will be out for a good few matches.

On a blustery day the wind was a problem throughout the match, changing direction at regular intervals making kicking a difficult prospect for both sides.

This suited the running game of Rockcliff, who in Tom Pike have unearthed a speedster on the wing. The first try came after four minutes, when Andrew Telford finished off a fine move, getting his second ten minutes later after Shields had responded with a try of their own.

With the wind behind them, Rock played some eye-catching stuff, and the try of the game came from Jonny Earnshaw, who stood up two Shields defenders, stepping inside of them leaving them flat-footed, to finish a great move.

With Bryan Stewart pulling the strings at stand-off and Ricki Hasnip controlling the attacks, Rock went on to score four first half tries, with versatile Kai Downey-Stevenson also getting on the score sheet.

Shields started the second half with the wind and renewed endeavour, pinning Rockcliff back for ten minutes of the half.

The Red and Golds weathered the pressure and with Josh Donnelly turning over ball on numerous occasions Rock went back upfield to score a try when the ball was stripped from the Shields scrum-half and Chris Keen pounced on the loose ball.

Keen was there again in the last quarter to power over for try number six, and then skipper Webster span through the Shields defence after pressure to make the score 39-7 to the Red and Golds.

Rockcliff relaxed momentarily to allow Shields back in for their second try of the game, but then closed out the match in the Shields half.

This was a comprehensive victory with great work form the whole team, and a good game to watch.

Bowman looked good on his return from injury, Hasnip is improving with each match and Bryan Stewart was voted man of the match.

There is no league game for Rockcliff next week, and the next match is the traditional Boxing Day match at Percy Park.

The next league game is at home to Prudhoe and Stocksfield on January 4.