Shields kick-start their season with a hard fought win

North Shields were looking to get their season going again when they welcomed high-flying Seaton Carew to Preston Playing Fields.

Carew had only lost one game so far this season to table-topping Ponteland and were arriving on Tyneside with confidence high.

Once again Blues coach Ian Chandler was forced to shuffle his cards due to injuries and unavailability.

Shields veterans Fenwick Taylor and Dave Hardy stepped into the back row and front row respectively, Jeff Burke returned in the second row and with no forwards on the subs bench, this was going to be a long day at the office for the Shields pack.

Shields knew what to expect going into this fixture and stuck to a game plan accordingly.

After a tense and scoreless opening to the game, which saw Blues full-back Dale Jones being replaced by Jack Jeffries due to injury.

Shields opened the scoring when Ben Dalton continued his excellent run of form by cutting inside Carew’s back line to touch down.

Carew replied with a try of their own from their playmaker No. 8 before Shields scored again.

After constant pressure from the Blues, with livewire scrum-half Ryan Ramsey jinking and weaving his way through tackles and the Shields forwards picking and going with every opportunity, the gaps started to appear.

Ramsey crashed over for a deserved try.

Carew also found themselves down to 14 men when their second row was sin binned for repeated infringement.

In the second half Carew pressed hard for a quick score. With a makeshift front row, Shields were struggling in the scrums, but were competing across the park and taking advantage of a poor Carew lineout, Hardy and Taylor taking four balls off the visitors.

Carew did manage to get an early score, but this proved to be a turning point in the match.

Shields continued to press and once within range, captain Mark Hall powered his way over the line with a trademark crash ball.

This was soon followed by a fine individual try for Dalton. Taylor ripped the ball loose in contact and popped it up to Dalton, who beat his man and found himself with a clear 40 metre sprint to the line.

Nerves were being tested both on and off the pitch when Carew pulled another try back, again through the forwards.

Then up stepped Jeffries, with an excellent drop goal from distance to keep Shields’s new scoreboard ticking over.

The final five minutes were a tense affair, with Shields repelling constant Carew attacks.

The visitors did manage one final converted try, but the Blues managed to see out the game for a thoroughly deserved victory 29-26.

With teams around Shields in the league picking up points, this was an important win and one which will hopefully give the Blues confidence going into their next games.

Man of the match was Ben Dalton with another superb performance.

Shields are back in action next week at Redcar.

North Shields Artisans are in action at home against Medicals Serpents in the cup, with a 2pm kick-off.