Rockcliff prove too strong for Hartlepool BBOB

Rockcliff took the honours in the league and cup double header held on the headland against Hartlepool Boys Brigade Old Boys.

The visitors gained five valuable league points which keeps them in fourth place in Durham and Northumberland Division 2, and they also progress to the next round of the RFU Northern Division Cup.

Coach Jack Lambert was able to pick Dan Atkinson, Douglas Hall, and Drew Hayton, in the front row, Lim Bowman, Dan Timney in the powerhouse, Chris Keen, Stu Thomson, and Niall Stokes as the breakaway forwards, young David Neasham, at scrum-half, Josh Donnelly at stand-off, and Andrew Telford, Dan O’sullivan, Simon Ayre, Jordan Anderson, and Simon Tindall made up the back line.

On the bench were Thomas Dawson, Andrew Moore, and making his first XV debut Steven Vert.

BBOB are struggling this season but Rockcliff expected a tough game and that is exactly what they got, with the home side fielding a big team raring to get their hands on the ball.

After seven minutes the large Pool pack made ground after the referee penalised a Rockcliff midfield mix-up to register the first score in the corner when their impressive hooker drove over, and this was converted for 7-0.

Rock began to find their feet and with Donnelly pulling the strings the backs began to tear holes in the opposition back line.

After 11 minutes Ayre broke through to score and then convert his own try.

Seconds later Telford crossed the white wash to increase the score 12-7.

But BBOB promptly responded with a penalty for 12-10 after only a quarter of the match played.

BBOB’s stand-off made some awesome hits, much impressing the travelling Rockcliff support. His tackling was sublime and kept the swift Rockcliff backs at bay, so much so that it was 20 minutes before Stokes followed Red and Gold pressure to cross the whitewash for a trademark try and 17-10.

Again BBOB came back and their pack trundled over for the equaliser, converted, for 17-17 at the break, and all still to play for.

Lambert made his substitutions at half-time which did little to disrupt the pack and as the match wore on it was telling that the fitter, younger Rockcliff team was gaining the ascendency.

Soon into the second half Ayre went over for his second try, earning Rockcliff a bonus point.

Then acting captain Bowman, having a barrelling game, smashed over.

But back came the home side, pushing back the Rockcliff defence to their own try line, the pressure getting to young prop Atkinson who decided that a small discretion in front of the ref might not be seen, but the result was a yellow card and a cold trudge to the opposing posts.

Over went BBOB to reduce the deficit at a worrying time for the Red and Golds.

Rockcliff held out and came back when Anderson finished off a sweeping move converted by Donnelly, and then O’Sullivan burst through to score, again converted by Donnelly for 41-24.

The score perhaps flattered Rockcliff, BBOB put in a great shift, and it is hard to believe that they are in the position they are. If they go down then it will only be for a short time if they can put in performances like this.

The Red and Golds now have a weekend off to repair battered bodies and return to Hillheads on January 31 for the derby with North Shields.

Whitley Bay Rockcliff 2nd XV 25

Percy Park 3rd XV 24

River Aln League

The Vikings just edged out the Pumas in an exciting and entertaining Northumberland RU River Aln League game at Hillheads.

The smaller Rockcliff pack dominated their larger opponents in the scrum and lineout which allowed No.8 Jonny Birkett to dominate the game.

Man of the match Birkett scored three tries with flying winger Rob Straker also crossing the whitewash. Fly-half Chris Forster added five points with the boot with a penalty and a conversion..

Park kept going until the final whistle but some committed Vikings defening ensured the points and regained the bragging rights following the defeat at Park earlier in the season.

Next week the Vikings travel away to Westoe for another league game.