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First XV - Match centre

Durham City
Sat 3 Feb 14:15 - Northern Division - Durham & Northumberland 1 Full time

Guis 17 Durham 25

Report by Ian Hewson

Guisborough welcomed Durham City to Belmangate anticipating a tough encounter against the current table toppers.
The visitors kicked off and immediately put pressure on the home team defence, with strong runs from their back-row forwards. This brought a penalty in the Guisborough 22 which Durham City elected to kick at goal, but a simple kick missed its target.
Play was taking place solely in the Guisborough half but strong tackling, in particular from James Clark, and good counter rucking meant that the visitors could not capitalise on their territorial advantage.
After weathering the storm, Guisborough broke from inside their own half through Jack Robinson. Running along the left wing, he linked up with Rob Leggott and Mark Ferguson. Recycled ball came back to Clark and a cross field kick to the right wing was gathered by PJ Finken-Hayes, but he was bundled into touch close to the try-line.
The Priorymen continued to keep play in the visitors’ half and were awarded a penalty 30 metres out. Clark stepped up and a clean strike at the posts gave his team the lead.
From the re-start Durham City created a glorious chance to hit back. After kicking a penalty to touch, 5 metres from the Guisborough line, the ball was shipped from left to right where an overlap was created. Fortunately play was taken back inside and the danger disappeared.
A strong run from Owen Edwards sparked another attack for the home team. Breaking from his own half and into the Durham City half, a pass to PJ Finken-Hayes was knocked forward with space in front of the speedy winger.
A topsy-turvy end to the first half saw the visitors take the lead. A strong break by Durham City through the midfield was brought to a halt on the Guisborough 22. The ball was then passed along the backs to the right wing where a last-ditch tackle from Oli Muir was not enough to stop a try in the corner: the difficult conversion was missed.
The opposition finished the half looking for a further score, but the referee ended the first half with the score reading: Guisborough 3 points, Durham City 5 points.
The visitors started the second half as they finished the first, and an early penalty was kicked to touch 5 metres from the Guisborough whitewash. Winning the line-out, Durham City attacked. Although stopped short, the referee deemed it was illegal and Jonny Wills was shown a yellow card.
Using the numerical advantage to good effect, Durham City elected a scrum which yielded a push-over try to extend their lead.
Outstanding defensive work prevented the visitors from extending their lead whilst Guisborough were a player short. In particular a try-saving tackle from Oli Taggart, stopped a player on the line.
Guisborough’s achilles heel struck again though. Just as they returned to a full 15, Oli Muir was penalised in front of his own posts as Durham City piled on the pressure. The match official once again showed a yellow card. Electing a scrum, the opposition pushed their way over to score under the posts. The conversion stretched their lead.
Threatening to run away with the game, the visitors scored a bonus point score when a fine break along the left wing saw the opposition break through tackles to touch down in the corner. The conversion just failed, striking an upright.
Back to a full complement, Guisborough showed that they were a match for any team in the division.
Kicking deep into Durham City territory, an attempted clearance was charged down by Robinson. The centre was first to react to the loose ball as he kicked it forward before gathering and diving over to score. Clark added the conversion.
Immediately from the re-start Guisborough scored the try of the game. Edwards collected the kick and broke through the midfield before off-loading to Chris Hodgson. Taking the ball beyond half-way he linked up with Ferguson, who darted along the left wing before passing to the supporting Leggott. Still with work to do, the captain stretched his legs to score in the left corner. Clark nailed the conversion from the touch-line.
The next points would be critical and both teams tested each other’s defensive skills in an attempt gain a winning score.
Unfortunately for Guisborough, the score went to Durham City. Attempting a chip over the opposition back-Line, the ball was gathered by the visitors and taken back towards the home team 22, where a penalty was conceded. Electing to kick at goal, Durham City stretched their lead to beyond a score.
With time running out, Guisborough could not muster one last attack to gain a losing bonus, and once Durham City got hands on the ball, it was kicked into touch to bring the game to an end with the score reading: Guisborough 17 points, Durham City 25 points.
Both teams provided an entertaining game of rugby and once again Guisborough showed their true colours against tough opposition. Let’s hope this is continued into next weekend, with a derby game to look forward to at Stockton.

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Team selection

Shields , Phil Shields , Phil
Ruff, Alex Ruff, Alex
Clark, James Clark, James
Robinson, Jack Robinson, Jack
Ferguson, Mark Ferguson, Mark
Whyman, Sam Whyman, Sam
Conway, Tony Conway, Tony
Macdougal, Michael Macdougal, Michael
Muir, Oli Muir, Oli
Leggot, Rob Leggot, Rob
Flint, Matthew Flint, Matthew
Corcoran, Liam Corcoran, Liam
Fincken-Hayes, James Fincken-Hayes, James
Taggart, Oli Taggart, Oli
Berriman, Rob Berriman, Rob

League round up

League table

# Team Pl Pts
8. Stockton 25 51
9. Novocastrians 24 50
10. Guisborough 24 49
11. Medicals 26 44
12. Ponteland 26 43
13. Gosforth 26 40
14. Redcar 26 23

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