Northallerton entertained mid table Baildon at home and were desperate to turn around their recent bad run of three consecutive defeats. However an extremely poor first half proved to be their downfall in a 18-26 defeat.
North started sloppily and conceded five penalties in the first five minutes, the fifth from which the visitors took the lead. North then calmed down and began to pressure the visitors who themselves gave away two kickable penalties, unfortunately Dan Luck
could only score from one of the two kicks. With the game even after 20 minutes, North were expected to up the tempo and run at the visitors via the blistering pace of Rhys Kilbride on one wing and the powerful Ian Duffus
on the other wing. North instead pressed the self destruct button on three occasions. Firstly, despite numerous warnings from the referee, North continued to illegally try and retrieve the ball from rucks with their hands, resulting in another converted penalty. Then soon after a Northallerton winger committed the schoolboy error, when a speculative kick over the top was allowed to bounce in front him, (this mistake was formerly known as a 'Studley') enabling the visiting winger to gather the ball and score under the posts. Five minutes after that a wayward pass in midfield from another North back caused confusion and mayhem resulting in another opportunistic try for Baildon. This put Baildon 15 points in front at half time and North with a huge uphill struggle trailing 3-18.
North made a change at half time replacing the injured Sanderson with the baby faced, young prospect Steve Robinson
. Robinson made an immediate impact when after three quick pick up and drives he emerged from under a pile of players to claim his 3rd try in 3 consecutive substitute appearances. Again North started to give away too many penalties, and high tackle on North's 22 gifted Baildon another 3 points. North then made two changes bringing on Joe 'man of glass' Terry and Brian Tucker
for the tiring Dan Luck
and Dougie Mulholland. Terry though, only lasted 3 minutes before suffering a reoccurrence of his shoulder problem and Luck had to reluctantly return for the remainder of the game. These changes though did freshen North up and with Tucker now pulling the strings at fly half North gradually got more into the game. On the hour mark a delicate grubber kick through from fullback Ed Baldman was chased by Kilbride, who despite giving his winger a 5 yard start still beat him to the ball to touch down. The conversion drifted agonisingly wide. Northallerton were now in full flow and looking likely to score out wide via the dangerous looking Kilbride. With the visitors worrying about the pacey winger it opened a gap in midfield for centre Dave Barrett to charge into and brush off two tacklers before scoring. Again the conversion attempt fell short. With North now only 3 points behind at 18-21 the home team and spectators could sense an unlikely comeback coming to a grand finale. Then a lapse in concentration gave Baildon a lineout on North's 22, from which they successfully gathered and sent their blindside flanker round to score out wide and seal the victory at 18-26. The only piece of action left was for the referee to sin bin a player from each team for a slight alteration before then immediately blowing for full time! This card ended Richard Dongsdales long club record of nearly 3 whole games without a card, some people doubt they will ever see a run like that again, not in their lifetime anyway!
Special mention should go to young hooker Jonny Baker, who despite what everyone says, did manage to throw ONE straight lineout, and also to Paul Dennison
who had one of his finest games yet as the kicking 'T' carrier.
Next week Northallerton 1st team are in cup action against Richmondshire, venue tbc.
Northallertons 2nd team fixture against Old Modernians was cancelled when the opposition withdrew the night before the fixture, probably fearing the mighty Studley and a heavy defeat against a team unbeaten at home for over a year.
Next week North 2nds face the long journey to Castleford.