Rockcliff bounced back from the previous week’s Northern Division Cup defeat against West Leeds to do the league double over close rivals Bishop Auckland.
In a fine display of running rugby they crossed the whitewash six times.
Coach Jack Lambert was able to pick some of the players missing for the Leeds cup match, so back to beef up the pack came Liam Bowman, Stu Thomson, and the evergreen Drew Hayton. Dan Timney, Andrew Moore, Chris Keen, the versatile Josh Donnelly, and Jonny Birkett made up the rest of the pack.
Young David Neasham started at scrum-half, while Andrew Webster, Simon Tindall, Andrew Telford, Sam Stirling, Dan O’Sullivan, and Simon Ayre made the final XV with Tomma Dawson, Simon Cormack and Leroy Wilson starting from the bench.
Bishop Auckland came looking for revenge as Rockcliff had done a smash and grab raid in the away fixture and their large pack was bristling with intent, determined to right the wrong.
Rockcliff started with the wind and strong sun on their backs, kicking down towards the quarry, determined to get the ball out to their swift backs at the earliest opportunity, whilst Bishops were intent on keeping the game tight, keen to bring their larger pack into play.
The Red and Gold forwards would have none of this, taking two against the head and putting in a great display to nullify the visitors threat.
After ten minutes the Rock pack put in a great scrum, pushing back their counterparts, Neasham secured a quick release of the ball and out it went across the backs to veteran winger Tindall to cross in the corner.
Rockcliff spurned several more chances when it seemed easier to score before Ayre smashed over a penalty from the halfway line.
At this stage it was all Rockcliff, the game being played in the Bishops half, and it was no surprise when Webster broke the line to score a trademark try, converted by Ayre for 15-0.
Finally Bishops threatened and after a period of play when they kept pressure on the Rockcliff pack, Thomson was sin binned and with a man missing in the pack it was no surprise that the experienced Auckland scrum turned the screw to go over for a try, and then repeat the process moments later.
Seven minutes into the second half order was restored and back came Thompson, who started to influence the game with his strong runs and great offloads
In the 56th minute Dan O’Sullivan completed a great move to go over in the corner, with Ayre converting brilliantly from an acute angle.
More tries followed when No. 8 Birkett, who was having a great game shielding scrum-half Neasham, broke through to set off the backs, with Telford finishing off a great move and securing the bonus point.
Bowman, again running his pack like the true leader he is, smashed all before him to charge up the field and cross the whitewash.
And finally Ayre picked up a pass from Tindall and ran towards the line only to be tripped by the opposing full-back, but the referee waved play on and O’Sullivan dribbled the ball through, controlling it under the posts before dropping on it for his second try of the match.
Webster converted to complete the scoring for Rockcliff and a resounding 39-17 victory.
Bowman was voted man of the match while Neasham, who is still learning his trade, gets better by the week.
Next week Rockcliff are away to Acklam.
Rockcliff RFC Vikings 27
Gosforth RFC 14
League and Cup
Another dominant pack performance against much bigger opposition set the platform for Rockcliff Vikings to continue their winning run, this time in a league and cup double header against Gosforth.
The Rockcliff forwards did not allow Gosforth to play for the majority of the game, and some committed defence at the break-down allowed the pacey Vikings back line to play the game in the away side’s half.
Tries from Harry Elliot, Ross Higginson, and two from skipper Gary Lewis secured the win, with seven points from Christopher Forster who notched two conversions and a penalty.
Man of the match was Steven Vert, who was a thorn in the Gosforth side all day.