Much changed Castle return to winning ways after absorbing early pressure
A depleted Castle side, battered from three games against table-topper opposition in a seven day spell, worsened by one or two players needing to work instead meant that Castle had a number of second team faces in the side to take on Gosforth who were bat
A depleted Castle side, battered from three games against table-topper opposition in a seven day spell, worsened by one or two players needing to work instead meant that Castle had a number of second team faces in the side to take on Gosforth who were battling for their league survival.
With West returning into the back row most of the changes were in the back line with multiple changes on both manpower and positional. Rees Doyle
came in at scrum half, Lucas Summers
and Adam Kicks
moved from the back three into the centres and evergreen Ed Kirby covered the wing and finally Jack Rowlandson
was the utility back sub.
Castle turned up at Gosforth to find superb conditions for running rugby; warm with a lightish wind which Barney played into in the first half. They got off to a strong start with surging runs from both Lucas Summers
and Miles Brookes
making huge inroads and back row colossus Chris Wearmouth
finished off for a 0-5 early lead.
Although Gosforth bagged a penalty, scrumhalf Doyle charged down an attempted clearance kick and from the ensuing melee it was another back row forward Joe Larder
who capitalised on Doyle’s hard work. With no Upton this week, it was the sledgehammer boot of Adam Haynes
that added the conversion.
Castle were well in control and the cohesiveness of the forwards soon showed as they drove a rolling maul fully twenty five metres up the park before releasing the ball down the back line and it was Ed Kirby’s turn to finish off team pressure.
Barney then seemed to assume the job was done and a Gosforth squad keen to try and engineer some points despite their lowly league position showed their application by running in three tries in the last quarter of an hour before the break to lead 22-17 at oranges.
Stung by some words of wisdom from coach Junior, Barney came out with renewed purpose after the interval and soon had Gosforth under pressure with Wearmouth grabbing his second of the match at the back of a lineout drive only five minutes after the restart.
Castle soon had the set-back of playing with only fourteen men when flyhalf Errington was sent to the ‘bin’ for ten minutes but it seemed to make little difference to a back line that was now purring like a well-oiled machine regardless of all the changes. Fullback Miles Brookes
was the next to punch a great big hole in the home defence before releasing to winger Ali Johnston to finish off.
Hooker Chris Strong
was next to create Gosforth problems with a bullocking run into the heart of the defence ultimately leading to a try for Lucas Summers
. Substitute winger Jack Rowlandson
got his first team points account ticking over with the conversion and after Strong had scored a try of his own, Rowlandson skinned his opposite number won the wing to give Barney a healthy 22-48 advantage. Castle were rampant now and Ali Johnston’s fifty yard jinking run saw him all the way to the line. Although Gosforth pulled a try back in the final minutes it was Barney who sealed off the game when prop Adam Haynes
finished off yet another lineout drive and back row colleague Joe Larder
was entrusted with the kicking duties to put over his first conversion for the club.
Castle showed their undoubted pedigree with this convincing win over Gosforth that would seem to have confirmed their demotion from the league. Despite the result Castle’s hopes of promotion are now very slender and require them to not only win at Guisborough in this comings weeks’ game but also requires that Consett should lose their final game at Gateshead which seems far less likely on present form. Even then to achieve promotion to Division One North-East they would need to win a playoff game against Scarborough, the second placed side from Yorkshire One.
Regardless of all outcomes there is no doubt that this has yet again been a terrific season for Barney and one hopes they can finish with a flourish against Guisborough to conclude the season in fine style.