NORTHERN 22 DURHAM CITY 24
By Caroline McHale
As top of the table clashes go, this Durham & Northumberland 1 match had the lot – some fine rugby from both sides, feistiness, red and yellow cards, a second-half fightback against the odds and excitement all around the ground with the uncertainty of t
As top of the table clashes go, this Durham & Northumberland 1 match had the lot – some fine rugby from both sides, feistiness, red and yellow cards, a second-half fightback against the odds and excitement all around the ground with the uncertainty of the eventual outcome.
Northern started in fine style with their backs threatening and going ahead as early as the second minute when centre Harrison Clark broke two or three tackles on a powerful run for prop Sam Wilson to drive over for the first try when Clark was stopped a couple of metres out.
But City quickly worked their way into the game, good attacks including centre David Elliott, brother Tom on the wing and N0.8 Paddy Dias on one occasion and a fine 35 metre run down the left by winger Sam Newton on another only just being foiled by the home defence in a half punctuated by penalties against both sides.
They finally got their reward after 33 minutes though, a good break by centre Craig Dominick supported by lock Howard Johnson and Dias taking play to the Northern 22 before they ran from a penalty 20 metres out for flanker Chris Metcalfe to dive over for a try from a ruck to level the score.
However, disaster then struck for Northern in the space of 2 minutes as they had a player yellow-carded and another sent off. City immediately took full advantage, running from their own half for Dominick to break and David Elliott scoring and following it up with an excellent try, again from their own half, fine inter-passing and continuity eventually creating a huge overlap on the left for David Elliott to score again. One conversion by scrum-half Paul Armstrong left City with what appeared to be a comfortable
5 – 17 interval lead.
To Northern’s credit though, they re-grouped magnificently, taking play to City, getting back into it when hooker Ben Smallwood scored from a quickly-taken penalty after 49 minute and then levelling the score at 17 – 17 in the 63rd following pressure from a lineout near the City line which saw Wilson dive over for his second try and stand-off Donal Collins converting.
It looked to be settled however when, with 8 minutes remaining, City’s Tom Elliott broke tackles to go clear from the Northern 22 and score their bonus-point try which stand-off James Coxon converted, but still Northern were not finished, prop Matthew Hirst crashing over near the posts after a series of penalties for their fourth try and Collins agonisinglly missing the conversion which would have given his side the draw with a couple of minutes remaining.
From there though, City recovered possession and calmly ran the clock down to secure a win that reduces Northern’s league lead to a single point.
On Saturday, City are at home to Medicals (2.15 KO)
CITY: Nathan Bushnell; Tom Elliott, David Elliott, Craig Dominick, Sam Newton; James Coxon, Paul Armstrong ©: Reece Amir, Kenny Reader, Kyle Wilson, Josh Cotton, Howard Johnson, Chris Metcalfe, Will Jewitt, Paddy Dias.
Replacements: David Atkinson, Max Bailey, James Cook.