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Rockcliff still chasing second

Rugby.
Rugby.

Rockcliff 19-19 Acklam

It was honours even as first played second in Durham and Northumberland Division 2, and a late come back in a hard fought game saw league leaders Acklam maintain their unbeaten record for the season despite Rockcliff denting their 100% record.

The game was played at Percy Park, who generously made their facilities available as Rockcliff’s pitches were unplayable due to a combination of waterlogging and new pitch installation.

Rockcliff unsettled Acklam in the early exchanges, and they were first on the score board after five minutes when Drew Hayton barreled through to score, converted by Simon Ayre, for 7-0.

From the restart the Red and Golds were on the back foot and were pinned back in their 22, but stubborn defence and some sloppy handling by Acklam meant it was twenty five minutes before Acklam finally opened their account, spinning the ball down the line to Chris Abraham who touched down, converted by Danny Ashton for 7-7.

The game settled down into midfield but just as Acklam began to gain the upper hand again, Chris McCabe intercepted a wayward pass and ran the ball in from half way, crossing the whitewash and with Ayre again adding the extras, it was 14-7 and so it remained until half time.

Rockcliff came out of the traps first in the second half, and a great move saw Kai Downey surge forward at inside centre, feed the ball out to McCabe and he timed a perfect pass to send winger Charlie Muzzlewhite away to score in the left hand corner and 19-7.

Five minutes later, with Rockcliff still pressing, Ayre was unlucky with two long range penalty efforts. Rockcliff kept up the momentum and after a kick and chase, only desperate Acklam defence managed to hold the ball up and deny a certain try and a try scoring bonus point.

Acklam then began to gain the upper hand, forcing Rockcliff back and with two tries from Andy Dalton in ten minutes, one converted by Ashton they leveled the score, and a nerve wracking final five minutes ensued.

The Red and Golds hung on through, and secured two vital points. The result sees Rockcliff remain in second, but Whitby are now only one point behind in third. Both sides now have three games to play, and with Acklam already assured of the step up, promotion from second place is in the balance for Rockcliff and Whitby.

Next week Rockcliff are at home to Darlington.