DESPITE a trip that should have taken 40 minutes taking nearly two hours, leaving Rockcliff only 15 minutes pre-match for the warm-up, the red and gold’s impressive form in 2012 continued with what was ultimately a one-sided win at Yarm.
Rockcliff started with youngsters Chris Keen, Lewis Partis and Alex Meadows on the bench, Paul Ellwood at four, the versatile Josh Donnelly back at seven alongside Karl Briggs and Jonny Birkett at eight, while Dale Harrison started on the wing.
Coach Tommy Rendles emphasised the need for good handling in the match, keeping the ball live and running the big Yarm forwards into the ground.
This was a much improved Yarm team from the side that played at Hillheads earlier in the season, and for the first quarter they competed well.
But in their first real handling move of the match Rockcliff swept upfield and Harrison went over in the corner to score with skipper Andrew Webster converting for 7-0.
Yarm fought back, restricting Rockcliff to just one more try in the last move of the half – Richard Berne crashing over after good hands while Webster again converted.
Rendles used his substitutes well in the warm weather, bringing on Meadows for veteran Neil Thornton, Partis for Richard Berne, and Keen for Karl Briggs, who as usual had given his all.
The superior Rockcliff fitness came into play in the second half, and within 15 minutes of the re-start they had run in two more tries through Jonny Birkett, with Webster adding the conversions to open up a 26-0 lead.
Then Steven Scott got away after a good move across the line to go under the posts, with Webster’s kick making it 33-0.
Keen then got into the act and scored with his first touch of the ball, showing good strength and speed as he crashed over in the corner.
Birkett completed his hat-trick, earning a yard of ale from the hosts in the process, before Bryan Stewart went over for one of his trademark tries, breaking from midfield to go under the posts – Webster made the conversion.
Finally the versatile Josh Donnelly, back to his best, capped a great game when he broke through to go under the posts leaving a simple conversion for inspirational Webster to make the final score 59-0.
Rendles and his staff Noel Mather and Gavin Donnelly gave joint men of the match awards to Duncan Jordan and Dan Atkinson, who tamed the Yarm pack, and a special award for Richard Berne, who was again strong.
On Saturday Rockcliff have a local derby against North Shields, playing for league points and the Malcolm Flockton Cup. Kick-off is at 3pm.
Congratulations went to Rockcliff scrum-half Dan Simpson as he was awarded his county tie when selected to play for Northumberland Under-20s in their 48-3 defeat to Lancashire at Flyde RFC.