North Shields 51-31 Darlington 1st XV
Round 1 of DN2 begins with a W...
With a Northumberland Senior Plate Semi Final place already secured, North Shields attention turned to Durham & Northumberland Division 2 action with the League season getting underway.
Head Coach Keith Christie was still away sunning himself and with the Development XV in action led by Jordan Carr, it was left to Sylph & Houston to take control of things. It was a largely unchanged team from the one that brought home the spoils from Ashington last week, with the only additions being Scott Murphy
, Mark Walker
, William Ogle and Sam Brooks
coming into the matchday squad.
Darlington were exactly what Shields expected them to be, a big physical pack and a light quick backline, but it was Shields who got the first points on the board through a Jack Rendles
penalty. Shields got a little complacent and switched off in defence, and after back to back penalties they invited Darlington into their 22 and their scrum half Andrew Harris spotted a gap and dived over which was easily converted to put the visitors ahead. North Shields responded in the worst way imaginable when Jack Rendles
restart sailed out on the full and heads went down immediately.
Despite this gift of possession Darlington failed to capitalise on this immediately due to some resolute defending from the Blue & Whites and a great kick from centre Ricki Hasnip
had them pinned back within 10m of their own line. However once again Shields clocked off and invited Darlington to come back at them, wasting the ball on first phase and failing to respond with urgency and the visitors scored again after their forwards were given good field position and recycled play well to force their way over for a score which was converted to put them ahead 3-14.
The game was interrupted when the referee took a knock to the head after getting caught in the middle of two players and hitting his head. Play was resumed a short while later after sufficient checks had been completed and the ref insisted he was ok to carry on. Shields managed a stroke of luck and came up with a score against the run of play when a long clearance kick from Jack Rendles
caught the Darlington winger napping who allowed the ball to bounce before livewire Lewis Boyle
snapped up the loose ball and outpaced the cover defence to dot down allowing Rendles’ conversion to reduce the deficit to 4. Shields spoke about maintaining this until half time but once again fell back into the same trap, and the Darlington pack benefited from some impatient defence and ill discipline and the visitors picked up their third converted try on the stroke of half time to bring the score to North Shields 10 – 21 Darlington at the interval.
The coaches tried to instil some composure and belief into the team and half time and skipper Dave Anderson
called upon his men to show some character to get themselves out of the hole they’d dug themselves due to their frantic play in the opening period and Shields got set to receive a kick off. With a clear focus on maintaining good field position and applying some pressure to the big Darlo pack and having some patience that errors would come Rendles kicked a long clearance deep into the visitors 22 and a good kick chase forced the Darlington fullback to kick out on the full gifting Shields some decent field position.
Building on from his Man of the Match performance in the cup last week Kai Downey
delivered an accurate throw which found Anderson who delivered quick ball off the top and Rendles receiving the ball on the front foot found centre Aaron Wilcocks who cut through the Darlington defence and did everything but ground the ball cleanly! Darlington then coughed up possession on their own lineout 10m from their line when the ball was overthrown, Andrew Leitch
winning the ball in the air before the ball was worked out wide for Wilcocks to cross untouched. He made sure this time and grounded the ball cleanly and Rendles tagged on the extras.
replaced Mark Walker
at scrum half and immediately got on the scoresheet. From the Darlington restart, Ben Dalton
ran hard and direct and broke the line before offloading to the supporting Brooks who chipped over the top and gathered the loose ball to touchdown, this time the conversion attempt was unsuccessful from Rendles but Shields regained the lead for the first time since early on in the match.
Shields brought up the 4 try bonus point just before the 50 minute and scored back to back tries from the resulting restarts with Chris McCabe
involved in both, first showing some neat footwork to get on the outside of his opposite man to score which Rendles again failed to convert. McCabe then turned provider with more scintillating footwork bamboozling the Darlington defence before offloading to Will Ogle
who had only just entered the fray and scored with almost his first touch of the ball. Rendles aim this time was true and Shields went 34 – 21 to the good.
With Shields firmly in the driving seat Anderson opted to kick at goal from a penalty near half way but Rendles’ attempt dropped just short, but he got a chance to make up for this minutes later when Darlington again were penalised for an offence at the breakdown, Rendles splitting the uprights this time to further the Shields lead. Straight from the restart Shields forwards made some serious ground with a driving maul and when it slowed down Will Ogle
made a break but after he was hauled down, the ball was moved out wide again and Wilcocks again crossed out wide on the right and Rendles added the goal.
The Shields supporters could hardly believe their eyes after the home side had played almost a flawless 25 mins and posted 34 unanswered points in the second half but once again Shields complacency and over-ambition became their own worst enemy and they gifted Darlington a couple of tries which gained them a bonus point to reduce the deficit to within two scores and with-it belief that a comeback was on the cards.
Shields weren’t finished scoring and McCabe again proved too much for the Darlington back line to handle and made another break before offloading to Boyle who broke clear but unselfishly offloaded to the supporting Kai Downey
to give him his first try in the Blue & White. Darlington tried again with one last big effort but some resolute Shields defence meant they did not cross and the referee’s whistle brought an end to proceedings.
North Shields RFC 51 – 31 Darlington RFC
After the game Anderson thanked his men for the way they responded to his call for character at half time and turned the game around. Darlington voted Chris McCabe
Man of the Match and he followed his former Rockcliffe buddy Downey in losing the drink off to the opposition. Some work needs to be done on this as its not any good winning games if we’re going to lose the drink off each week.
The Development XV suffered a disappointing loss to close rivals Rockcliffe 2nds in a game that was always going to be difficult when a number of late withdrawals took the squad of 24 down to 16 against a Rockcliffe side with 32 players turning up.
Plenty to work on this week ahead of a tough test away to Sunderland for the 1st XV with the Development XV hopeful of picking up a fixture.
North Shields XV: Ben Lemmons
, Kai Downey
, Ben Reid
, Dean Harrison
, Dave Anderson
, Scott Murphy
, Ben Dalton
, Andrew Leith, Mark Walker
, Jack Rendles
, Matty Dockey
, Ricki Hasnip
, Aaron Wilcocks, Lewis Boyle
, Chris McCabe
Replacements: Lee Brown
, William Ogle, Sam Brooks
Darlington XV: Daniel Miller, Darren Hoare, Michael Tebbs, Chris Anderson, Alexander Pederson, Gary Dent, Joe Turner, Colin Rogers, Andrew Harris, Aaron McNeilly, Andrew Robinson, Sean Flynn, Daniel Carter, James Metcalfe, Ryan Thompson
Replacements: Christopher Dargue, James Probert, Neil Scullion