WB ROCKCLIFF 24 – DURHAM CITY 19
Twice this season I have had to report on a narrow loss to WB Rockcliff (WBR). On neither occasion does it feel to this reporter that we were, in fact, defeated. Perhaps this is because on both occasions we played the better rugby hard and well. Perhaps it’s because we pretty much deserved victory on the overall balance of play only to be caught out by a couple of ‘sucker punch’ breakaway tries. The U-14’s can be assured that, once physical disparities have evened themselves out, superior skill, effort and attitude will prevail.
The match was played in very cold, wet and breezy conditions which made the pitch at Whitley Bay a boggy quagmire which worsened as the game went on. The match consisted of two 20 minute halves, with Durham kicking-off proceedings. The first try was run in by WBR after 9 minutes and play had until then been a tough midfield battle with neither side dominating and muddy conditions giving rise to a number of handling errors on both sides. The try came from a successful charging down of an attempted kick clearance by Durham around the half way line. The ball fell kindly for WBR who broke down Durham’s right wing to score 10 yards to the left hand side of the posts. A successful conversion gave WBR a 7-0 lead.
Durham were not to be phased by this and came back to exert steady pressure towards the WBR 22. WBR fluffed a line-out less than 10 yards from their try line and, regaining possession, Durham kept up pressure until forcing over the line for a successful try, followed by a conversion to level the scores after 11 minutes. This was proving to be just as tight and tough a game as many had expected and Durham were very much up for it on the pitch as grim midfield to-ing and fro-ing continued. A feature of Durham’s play, apart from sheer effort and commitment, was their superb kicking for territorial gain and this put WBR under constant pressure. Durham were asking all the questions of WBR’s defence by now. Only stubborn resistance on their part and a series of minor infringements by Durham prevented more Durham scores until, (déjà vu?!) a breakaway try from within their own 22 area right at the end of the first period gave WBR a 12-7 lead at half time.
WBR kicked-off the second half and another super kick for touch put Durham no more than 5 yards out from WBR’s try line. Initial clearance by WBR went straight to Durham whose kick and chase tactic so very nearly paid off, the ball just rolling out into the dead zone before it could be touched down. All play was now in WBR’s 22 and Durham’s pressure eventually paid off 13 minutes into the second period with a series of drives, featuring powerful maul play, taking them over the line just inside the right touchline. A very tricky conversion was not successful and scores were therefore level at 12-12. This put Durham 5 yards from WBR’s try line yet again and Durham powered over for a 19-7 lead after a successful conversion with only 7 minutes remaining. Unfortunately Durham’s hard work was undone as they then failed to stop a WBR move that started under WBR’s own posts and ended with a try right under Durham’s posts, making the conversion a formality for a 19-19 score line and the clock ticking away.
It was just not to be Durham’s day, however, as almost immediately they lost possession on the edge of WBR’s 22 and could not stop a powerful charge down the left wing which ended up under Durham’s posts once again. Cruel! The straightforward conversion proved not to be so and the referee blew for time straight afterwards.
Bad luck Durham. Two games recently, both decided by breakaways from the opponent’s 5 yard line. But don’t feel too bad. This was a really good game for the neutral and once again we should feel very unlucky. You have the skills and talent and you certainly have the right attitude and approach……..you just need to tighten up when on the attack and make those tackles count.
Well done! Proud of you….again!!