Rockcliff secure scalp of second placed Barnard Castle

Rockcliff's Dan Atkinso unning towards the line to score a try. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos
Rockcliff's Dan Atkinso unning towards the line to score a try. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Eighth placed Rockcliff just edged out second placed Barnard Castle in an excellent advert for rugby in Durham and Northumberland Division 2.

Past meetings between the two teams has produced some great matches with flowing rugby, and this game lived up to expectations.

Rockcliff win a lineout against Barnard Castle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Rockcliff win a lineout against Barnard Castle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Rockcliff were forced into changes from the previous week’s win over Whitby, with Ross Bailey stepping in at scrum-half, Conor Ball starting on the wing, Dan O’Sullivan at inside centre, Leon Smart on the flank, and Charlie Muzzlewhite starting in place of Dale Harrison.

The pack started with Dan Atkinson, Stephen Pentland, Andrew Hayton, Ben Butler , Stu Thomson, Chris Keen, and Liam Bowman. Josh Donnelly and skipper Andrew Webster were at stand-off and outside centre , with Andrew Telford at full-back while Andrew Moore and Jethro Pearson kept the technical area warm.

The Red and Golds started well, the forwards dominating the visitors pack, and after a dominant first five minutes Donnelly span out the ball and O’Sullivan crashed over in the corner.

Playing with the slope and wind and sun behind their backs, Barny upped their game and on 27 minutes Adam Kicks scored and converted a try to put them into a 7-5 lead at half-time.

A Rockcliff player staying on his feet to recyle the ball after a Barnard Castle tackle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

A Rockcliff player staying on his feet to recyle the ball after a Barnard Castle tackle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Kicking down the hill, and with the win and sun now in their favour, Rockcliff were looking good, and when Barnard Castle had a man sin binned, Rockcliff pressed home the advantage.

Seven minutes into the half, prop Dan Atkinson dropped his shoulder and broke blind side to speed into the corner for a great individual try. Webster converted for 12-7.

Atkinson nearly reproduced the feat when he made a great break after a lavish sidestep but was ankle tapped by desperate defence just short of the line.

Needing more points to make the game secure, Rockcliff applied more blood and guts and the pressure got to the visitors, and despite some great defence the full-back dropped the ball in the try area and Muzzlewhite dropped on it to score his first try in Rockcliff colours for 17-7.

Rockcliff attempting to win a lineout against Barnard Castle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Rockcliff attempting to win a lineout against Barnard Castle. Picture by Colin Edwards, CJEPhotos

Barnard Castle played the last 20 minutes more or less in Rockcliff’s half, and when Rockcliff had a man sin binned with ten minutes to go, further scores looked inevitable.

But excellent defence, and some great tackles from Ball, held the visitors at bay until they finally created an overlap for Ed Kirby to score, converted by Kicks with the last kick of the game.