One of the games we can always guarantee the players being up for is against our closest neighbours Stockton, Saturday was no different and there was soon a good availability with the boys keen to escape the crowds and Christmas shoppers, trading it for the much less dangerous rugby pitch.
There were to be a number of 1sts with Callum Poppitt of the colts making his 1st senior appearance, along with young Ben Armstrong who had the chance to not only line up alongside his brother for the 1st time but also seeing dad Dave Armstrong pull on his boots to make it a real family occasion.
The 1st 20 odd minutes of the game was a real dog fight, neither team could really get the upper hand and when there were opportunities the wet conditions or poor handling stopped it in its tracks.
25 minutes in and some good work out wide from the forwards brought the ball to James Watson, who in typical style crashed over in the corner, no doubt the 3 yards have become 30 after a few beers with numerous tackles brushed aside. Young Phil Greenbank slotting the 2 from the touchline.
Indiscipline was then to cost us as a penalty was awarded allowing Stockton back row and former Billingham junior Devon Douthwaite to squeeze over. With the kick missed it was 5-7.
The game then continued in the same vein as the 1st 20 until it came to the last play of the half when some neat interplay between Luke Bain and Carl Robinson switched the ball inside for Alex Blenkinsopp to crash over under the posts.
Young Phil again slotting the extras.
Into the 2nd half and Billingham were starting to assert some pressure forcing a penalty inside the Stockton 22. It was ran and the ball was moved to Ben Elgie to score from short range, Phil keeping up the 100% record with the conversion for 5-21.
At this point we have seen other teams crumble however that wasn't going to be the case today and it was Stockton next on the Score sheet.
A couple of rumbles up the right flank saw them go blind 10 metres out, a covering tackle from Armstrong senior, by this time on the pitch with both sons, took the carrier into touch before dotting down, this however was missed by the nearside linesman and the score stood, with the 2 again missed the score was now 10-21, was a comeback on the cards?
In short no as the Billingham response was almost immidiate, some scrappy play after the kick off saw a ruck on halfway, quick ball from replacement 9 Ben Armstrong (the younger brother) found Luke Bain in a little space, seeing there was nobody home at fullback the kick over the top was a great option, it then became a foot race and one which the older Armstrong, Luke won to touch down in the right corner.
With Phils game done for the day the kicking duty passed to Carl Robinson. The kick resembled an exocet missile, unfortunately this one was a dud which barely got off the ground or even had the power to reach the line.
The game should now have been put to bed however a yellow card for a high tackle from captain Anthony Kelsey gave them belief and good field position again, Young Devon Douthwaite again going over for his brace. Another missed kick and it was 15 - 26 into the last 5 minutes.
There was no way Billingham were letting Stockton have the last say and this came from Geordie shore himself Kyle Scott off a short range run, taking the tacklers over the line with him.
With Carl keen not to repeat his previous attempt he decided he needed to do something different to gain the elevation, this came in the form of slipping onto his backside as he took the kick, fortunately and somewhat miraculously the ball went over to end the scoring.
As the final whistle was blown and the handshakes were shared its time to look back on 2018, its highs, some lows and a bright future ahead.
I hope to see you all boxing day but till then wishing a very happy Christmas from all in the mighty 3,3,3TM #OSIOS