The referee started the game 30 minutes later than expected and in fear of losing light with Blaydon only having 12 men on the field, the other 2 getting changed on the touchline.
Despite this set back the visitors started well with solid work from the pack. The Heughers gradually got into the game and after a fine break by Brian Forman, then good hands from Ben Little
and Daz Fawcett
, Lee Maddison
crossed over for an unconverted try, 5 – 0.
Scrums were frequent throughout the game and after a decent start with Gregory taking one against the head, Rovers started to feel the pressure of the Blaydon pack and the visiting number 8 constantly battered Rovers from the base of the scrum. Brian Forman, back from injury had a fine game, strong in defence and always looked dangerous with ball in hand often being the starting point for Rovers attacks. Simon Hall
replaced James Fleet
after 30 minutes and made his mark with some solid tackles but Blaydon scored a try after sustained pressure, kicking a penalty to the corner, winning simple line out ball and driving over, 5 – 7.
Continued pressure from the visitors gave them a second converted try and they were cruising into a commanding lead, 5 – 14. Dave Carroll replaced Ben Little
in the front row adding considerable bulk to the pack. A change in pace saw Rovers finally string together some fine phases of play with Forman, Glen Wise
, Lee Maddison
and Carroll who finished off by driving over for a try, converted by Fawcett, 12 – 14.
Blaydon bounced back and after a series of 5 meter scrums and some brave defence, the visiting scrum half who was sharp all game nipped over for an unconverted try, 12 – 19. Ben Atter came on for Anthony Hanley
to add fresh legs to the pack and Jamie Montgomery
came on for Pinkey Graves to make his senior debut along with Chris Hopkinson. Both Jamie and Chris got stuck into what was a very tough game giving them essential experience for their progression into senior rugby.
The visitors went further ahead after an intercepted pass from Steve Railton to Matty Stephenson gifted the opposition winger a 50 meter score that was unconverted, 12 – 24.
The home side were on the brink of defeat but great determination from man of the match Andrew Arnell
who picked up the pace of the game working the pack up to the Blaydon line. Good work followed from Pinchen and Madderson then a great line from Steve Railton saw him cut through the defence to score an excellent try with Fawcett converting, 19 – 24. With minutes to go and fading light, the Heughers continued to pressure Blaydon with more good work from Gregory, Forman, Pinchen and Madderson to get Carroll into a position to force his way over for a second try.
Fawcett converted the last kick of the game to win 26 – 24 leaving Blaydon bemused.
The only comment I could come up with from my vast knowledge and experience was to call them a bunch of lucky ba###rds but credit to them, a win is a win and they fought back brilliantly to get it. However, too many of the players are cruising at times and not putting enough effort in while others are busting their balls for the full game. When the tempo is increased most opposition struggle to live with them but it takes all 15 men, if they learn to do this for longer periods of the game the results will be much better.