This Wednesday in Cochrane Park, Durham 2nds came out the victors after clash with Newcastle 1sts in what was an exciting game in testing conditions.
Despite the incredibly blustery conditions often leading the ball to go out of play for few line-outs, both sides had several decent chances in the first few minutes. However, Durham were the first to score a try after a messy throw-out near the corner flag, made difficult from huge defensive effort from the men in blue and red.
Following Durham’s converted try there were an uneventful few minutes, however things soon picked up with Newcastle making several forays into their opponent’s half.
A good run from number 11 Michael Forest from the left flank, led to the home sides’ first real chance but the ball was slapped away in the air mid-pass by a Durham player before anything could be made from it.
Nevertheless, a plucky Newcastle made their next big chance count after Forest again found a gap in Durham’s defence and made a surge on the left to excellently score a try. Unfortunately, due to the tight angle and heavy winds number 9 Dan Nutten missed the conversion, meaning Durham remained two points ahead.
The try seemed have revitalised the home team as they made even more runs on their left flank, although this spell of possession was quickly ended after the men in purple were given a penalty kick. Suddenly Durham were on the attack and after a good spell of pressure were able to score another try after winning a scrum, making the score 5-14 at half-time.
Their efforts were then rewarded as Alex Gillam scored the try of the game
After the half-time break and team-talks, Newcastle came out all guns firing and started to use the width of the pitch more, rather than stick to the left flank. Newcastle’s determination was epitomised by number 1 Joe Gutteridge who was left on the floor after a nasty clash, but after being checked over was back up on his feet.
Their efforts were then rewarded as Alex Gillam scored the try of the game, showing great positioning and vision to catch the ball and ground it after a risky cross-field kick.
However, Durham came back and after a long spell of possession and through kicking the ball towards the corner flag, were able to use their strength in set pieces to score two tries and take control of the game.
Although chances for a victory for a tiring Newcastle were fading just as much as the light, the team still kept going and made several good attacks in what proved to be a decent period of possession.
Durham’s defence stood firm however and it was only until the away side had a player sin-binned that the home side were able to score a try following a ruck at the corner flag for Newcastle. Nonetheless, with 14 or 15 men Durham were always in control and ended the game as comfortable victors, with the score finishing 17-26.
All in all, despite a few flashes of brilliance from Newcastle, things never seemed to have clicked and the side were just not quite at the top of the game, often letting themselves down by being unable to keep hold of the ball.
That is not say to that Durham were not deserving of the win after tactically astute and were able to use their set pieces effectively to score their 4 tries and take the win. However, Newcastle remain top of the table and still look on course to win the league.