On a blustery day, Rockcliff and Redcar produced a try-fest in the teeth of a gale.
The visitors have been consistant performers in Durham and Northumberland Division 2 over the last couple of years and have provided Rockcliff with some close encounters, so the large crowd expected much the same from this fixture.
And for a while Redcar’s season looked like ending as Rock came back from the dead to lead going into the final quarter. Unfortunately they could not hold on and the visitors ran out winners in an entertaining game.
With a full team of first XV ruled out through injury, coach Jack Lambert was forced to make a change seconds before kick-off when hooker Dougie Hall pulled a hamstring in the warm-up.
Dan Timney, Andrew Moore, and Drew Hayton started in the front row, Stu Thomson and a recalled Simon Cormack, George Reid, Josh Donnelly, and Liam Bowman completed the pack. Dan Simpson, Simon Ayre, Leroy Wilson, Dan Bomken, Dan O’Sullivan, Conor Ball and Ryan McLeod were the backs, with Chris Keen, David Neasham, and Leon Smart on the bench.
Redcar came boasting a fine back division and they started by showing Rockcliff just how good they are by scoring in the first minute with a fine try from their flying winger.
Rockcliff responded and after 14 minutes Wilson scored his first try for the club when he cut inside and sped over for a try converted by Ayre.
The scoresheet was not altered for a fair period until the referee awarded a penalty to Redcar which was knocked over, then followed two tries to take the score to 18-7 to the visitors.
But Rockcliff rallied and a good spell of pressure resulted in Thomson crossing the whitewash for a great try, converted by Ayre.
In the second half there were further problems for Rockcliff when Bomken was forced to leave the field injured, so on came Keen with Donnelly moving into the centre, Reid to flanker, with the two of them swapping positions as the game wore on.
The Red and Golds managed their game well and a gap was created by a great break from Reid, and Keen in support was on hand to power through and show the defenders a clean pair of heels to put Rock into a 19-18 lead.
Redcar where visibly shaken and Rockcliff looked at this stage the better team, the pressure getting to one Redcar player who committed a foul right in front of the referee, who to the surprise of the Redcar team, support and management, did nothing when a red card seemed inevitable.
Play continued without the game losing its shape and the match was played in the right spirit.
Redcar responded well and forced their way into the Rockcliff half, running in three more tries to score 39 points as the game moved towards the final whistle.
There was still time for O’Sullivan to complete the scoring for Rockcliff with a well worked try in the corner to finish a good game from him as it ended 39-24 and Redcar continue their run to the promotion spot.
Rockcliff now have two away matches to finish the season off, Ashington away and then a short trip to Wallsend.