Rockcliff seal win over South Tyneside College

Rockcliff took the road south to South Tyneside to face an improving College side who battled hard and gave a good test on what was an ideal day for a game of rugby.

Coach Jack Lambert was able to field a strong team and a lot of his injured squad are on the mend and could be back for the important end of season run-in.

Lambert was able to call on Ryan McLeod and Simon Ayre for the first competitive game of the year, both returning from long term injuries.

They joined scrum-half Dan Simpson, stand-off Josh Donnelly, Keiran Lydall, Dan O’sullivan and Simon Tindall in a fast back line.

The forwards were beefed up with Dan Atkinson, Andrew Moore, Drew Hayton, Liam Bowman, Chris Keen, Kai Downey-Stevenson, Sam Stirling, and Naill Stokes.

Starting from the bench were the fit again Stu Thomson, Thomas Dawson and livewire speedster Leroy Wilson.

The home game against South Tyneside at Hillheads was a tough affair as they have a strong pack and a good No. 10 who has a big boot, so Rockcliff knew how they would play the game.

Coach Lambert loaded his backline with pace and guile in order to run the College pack ragged, and to exploit the inexperience they have in the centre.

However, Rockcliff did not work to the game plan in the first half and they were drawn into a forward battle which proved the visitors have learnt a lot this season.

With Rockcliff playing new combinations around the park it took some time for them to settle, and by the time they did they found themselves six points down to two penalties.

The Red and Golds finally opened up their account in the 33rd minite when versatile Downey-Stevenson, this week playing at flanker, was helped over the whitewash after good work from the forwards.

Three plays later and roughly in the same spot, again after good work from the forwards, Morgan powered over for a try, converted by Ayre.

At half-time Rock were 12-6 in front and looking like they were beginning to click as a team.

With only minutes of the second half gone, the try of the match was scored when Sullivan finished off a great passing move involving Tindall, Ayre, and Downey-Stevenson, converted by Ayre to take the score to 19-6 and the game away from College.

The subs were brought on and they all contributed to the game.

Hayton excelled on the pitch, bulldozing and barrelling his way through the opposition making the hard yardage, putting his team on the front foot.

On 65 minutes Stokes went over for the bonus point try and finished the game off ten minutes later with his second and the Red and Golds’ fifth try to seal the match and also to cap a fine performance.

Next week Rockcliff entertain runaway leaders Ponteland at Hillheads, kick-off at 2.15pm.

Whitley Bay Rockcliff 14

Percy Park 47

Boxing Day saw one of north east sports longest standing fixtures take place with the traditional annual match between Rockcliff and Percy Park.

Park showed their potential in the first half when Michael Langlands and Harry Thorpe scored a try apiece to get off to a 10-0 lead.

Rockcliff countered when Kieran Lydall finished off a good move, converted from the touchline by Simon Ayre for 10-7.

Howard Stcok then scored for Park for 15-7, but Rockcliff increased the pressure when the pack drove a five metre scrum back under the posts an Liam Bowman touched down, again converted by Ayre for 15-14.

Lee Gallagher added Park’s fourth try just before the break and the sides changed ends with Park leading 20-14.

In the second half, despite their best efforts, Rockcliff couldn’t stop Park running way with the game and tries came from Thorpe, Josh Hedley and Sean Williamson before Thorpe capped a fine performance with his hat-trick try, converted by Hedley, and Jimmy Baldwin added a final try for 47-14.