REDCAR 23 DURHAM CITY 47
By the time this report appears, the destination of the Durham & Northumberland 1 League title may have already been settled if leaders Durham City secured a victory at third-placed Consett last night – if not, the race goes on!
The physical effects of their 9 – 15 midweek defeat to second-placed Barnard Castle in an attritional match were evident from the start against bottom side Redcar, who belied their league position with a hugely spirited performance which saw them control and lead for most of the first-half.
They went ahead from the kick-off, City losing possession on their own 22 and the home side snapping it up for centre Matthew Curry to score and their pressure continued.
A penalty chance was squandered and even when City were finally kick-started after 12 minutes as centre Craig Dominick broke strongly from 35 metres to score on their first visit to home territory and full-back Phil Stewart converted, the Redcar response was immediate. A quickly-taken penalty and ruck on the City line saw flanker Chris Clitheroe score, full-back Dan Addison convert and, when City were reduced to 13 players with 2 having been yellow-carded, he added a penalty. At 15 – 7 ahead, the home side were flying.
But restored to full-strength and starting to rid the lead from their legs without ever hitting any highs, City finally got themselves going in the last 5 minutes of the first half with tries by No.8 Peter Dent who forced his way over from a penalty near the line and winger Tim Mackay after 2 or 3 phases when they won the ball from the re-start after Addison had kicked a second long- range penalty for the home side.
Stewart converted one of the City tries to give them an unlikely 19 – 18 interval lead, and whilst they continued to splutter in the second-half, they added further tries through centre Chris Metcalfe and Dent which Stewart converted to take them clear at 33 – 18.
Redcar refused to be cowed though, coming back to score a third try through Addison, and it was only in the final quarter that City stretched away, Metcalfe and winger Josh White taking their final try tally to seven and Stewart adding the conversions to take the final score to 47 – 23.
Dependent on last night’s result at Consett, they could now be going into tomorrow’s final league match of the season against Peterlee and Horden at Hollow Drift (3.00pm) as winners already or still needing a bonus-point win and results going their way elsewhere to secure the title.