3rds win away at Rockliffe
Report by James Collins
With no games for the 3s since late November, the boys turned up at Whitley Bay in serious need of a game. We had a strong squad, and the warm up was solid, but the expected rustiness from all the lads was there to see.
The game started well, and settled in to a pattern quickly. The big Rockcliff front 5 were taking the ball to the line around the fringes of the rucks and making yards against a smaller Gateshead pack. As soon as the Gateshead lads managed to get the ball to their backs, they made ground every time, and the superior mobility of our forwards meant that they were able to recycle quite quickly. Gateshead managed to cut through the Rockcliff defence a few times, but a mixture of dropped passes, wrong options and good tackling saw us stopped before we were able to score.
Eventually, Rockcliffe started to build momentum in the Gateshead 22, the lads didn’t miss many tackles, but Rockcliff made some good yards by hammering away around the edges of the breakdown and eventually their strength showed, and they scored the first try.
Gateshead came back and as the forwards started to get to grips with the Rockcliff pack, the backs were getting better ball and eventually Si Schofield scored a try in the corner after a decent move with good handling throughout the backs.
The game went on like that as Gateshead started to get the upper hand, Josh Aldwinkle got a great individual try down the wing, outpacing the Rockcliff back line. 2 more tries followed from Lewie Arthur and Jeremy Seront, both cutting fantastic lines through the middle of the Whitley Bay defence and scoring under the posts. This allowed Jeremy to add the extras, and he also kicked a good penalty, which would turn out to be crucial in the end.
While we were scoring these points, Rockliff were giving it a go themselves. They were difficult to handle all day, and they scored a couple of decent tries through their well drilled forward pack.
Towards the end, and sensing a win the Gateshead boys eased off a little bit too much. Rockcliff came back at us hard and touched down with 5 minutes or so to go to make the score 27-24. This gave the Gateshead lads a bit of a scare and the intensity came back for the final few minutes. We nearly scored ourselves through Drew to close the game out, but just missed out. The final score was 27-24.
The Whitley Bay lads might think differently, but to my mind we were the better team all round, and maybe should have won by more. A mixture of rustiness, and low confidence probably hampered us a little bit at times, but credit to the boys, they held on to the win in the face of a decent team who had a proper go at us The backs defended brilliantly, and attacked well when given a chance, while the forwards really fronted up against a much bigger pack, doing well in the set piece and defending bravely for long periods.
MOM went to to Lewie Arthur, who took his try very well and was a threat in attack all afternoon and to Welshy for the forwards, who seemed to get injured in the first 5 minutes but played on until coming off with about 5 to go. He got stuck in, made some very important tackles, and gave their lads a very hard time at the breakdown as well.
I though Jeremy played well, his points kicking effectively won us the game in the end, as did Finley Reah, who was far too quick off the mark for the lads in the Rockliffe pack and he made a couple of brilliant breaks when we needed them.
Matty Butler ran himself in to the ground for the team yet again, and Todd marshalled the backline brilliantly from 10, as he had been doing all season when given the chance.
Lastly, Special mention to Mark Wood, playing his first game for the club coming on in to the 2nd row. I’m sure he’ll be a real asset once he has a few games under his belt. It was also great to see Jason Dale and Paul Bate back at the club after leaving for differing periods of time. It’s great seeing lads coming back for any reason and they will both be invaluable to teams at all levels if we want to build on these kinds of results.
Overall, I felt we fought well, and really came together as a team, and thoroughly deserved a much-needed win. A few moments of magic led to tries and that will only improve as we get more games and wins under our belts.
Great start to 2018 lads!