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Home > News > Newton Aycliffe 17 - Seaham 15
Your News Newton Aycliffe 17 - Seaham 15

After having suffered a heavy defeat to the same opposition three weeks earlier, Seaham travelled to Newton Aycliffe in optimistic spirits with a much stronger team. However, the official nominated to referee the match didnt arrive so it was decided that each side would provide a referee for half of the game each. Seahams Henry Brace agreed to officiate during the first half and Aycliffes Bob Malvern agreed to return the compliment after the break.

Seaham showed plenty of confidence during the opening quarter of the game as their forwards dominated the set pieces. Their scrum looked rock solid and the lineout duo of Ben Bell and Michael Bland ensured plenty of possession. As was the case in previous matches however, they were unable to convert their dominance into points and should have been several scores up had it not been for some forward passes, handling errors and stern defence. Adam Keeligan made up for some of his team mates knock-ons by hooking several balls against the head.

The visitors made their pressure pay after 18 minutes there forwards had spent a sustained spell of time camped in the Aycliffe 22. Gary Lynn took a fine popped pass and rampaged his way over the line for the opening score. Fly half Dave Davison converted the kick and Seaham were 7-0 in front.

They had a chance of extending their lead shortly afterwards when veteran full back Andrew Baxter set off on an elusive run down the right touchline that sucked in much of the home defence. Running out of space, he offloaded inside to supporting flanker Mark Wilson, but the pass was adjudged to have been slightly forward. Aycliffe managed to clear the ball downfield from the resulting scrum.

The hosts tied the scores on 27 minutes when Seaham leaked a trademark try and allowed Aycliffes centre to run through their entire defence. Without having a finger laid on him, he touched down under the posts and the added conversion levelled the scores at 7-7.

Seaham maintained the offensive for much of the time but Aycliffe always looked keen to counter through their speedy back division. However, after a good old berating from their skipper John Dixon, the Harbour defence held their line and ensured that no further scores were conceded.

The hosts enjoyed a good spell just before the break and had Seaham under pressure near their own line. The visitors conceded several penalties yet still held their line and defended stubbornly. As they managed to turn Aycliffes flanker onto his back and looked to turn the ball over, Seahams supporters screamed that he was refusing to release the ball and expected a penalty in their favour. However, it was adjudged that Seaham had constantly infringed as a team and the latest culprit, Andrew Baxter, was given a yellow card.

Fortunately for Seaham, they rode the pressure from the resulting scrum and a handling error by one of the Aycliffe forwards proved to be the last play of an entertaining first half.

Half Time: Newton Aycliffe (7) SEAHAM (7)

Contrary to the pre-match agreement, Henry Brace continued to officiate after half-time; insistent that he wasnt fit to play. He stated that he was happy to do so and, naturally, the hosts agreed and retained the services of their full compliment of players.

The game continued in the same breakneck pattern with Seaham dominating the forward exchanges and working their way upfield before unleashing their young backs. However, they showed an annoying habit of entering rucks from the side and yielded an abundance of territory and possession by conceding soft penalty after soft penalty at the breakdown.

However, it was Newton Aycliffe who conceded the next score just before the hour mark when one of their back row conceded a penalty for handling in the ruck. Dave Davison stayed ice cool and slotted the ball between the posts to put Seaham back in the lead at 10-7.

Seaham looked to capitalise on their forward dominance and build a score but the hosts defended and counterattacked remarkably well. Glen Hardie and Brad Green made a few blistering runs through the defence and Adam Keeligan proved a constant thorn in their side as he carried the ball well.

Unfortunately for the Harbour, their defence went to sleep again in the 73rd minute and extremely poor tackling allowed Aycliffe to cross the line in the left corner for their second try. An excellent touchline conversion from their fly half took them into a 14-10 lead.

Seaham picked up the gauntlet and looked to regain the lead from the restart. Their forwards battered away at Aycliffes line and had plenty of opportunities to score, only for handling errors and stern defence to hold them at bay. Their efforts were finally rewarded in the 79 minute when flighty young scrum half Brad Green picked the ball up from the base of a ruck and dove over for a controversial try. The home side justifiably voiced their protests as the ball did not appear to have been grounded properly but Mr Brace awarded the try nonetheless. Dave Davison had less luck with his conversion attempt but the Harbour were 15-14 in front with their supporters screaming that time was up on the clock.

Aycliffe would be allowed one more opportunity to get a clinching score if they could win the ball from the restart. The ball was taken safely by Gary Lynn and he charged forward and took the contact. He was tackled but attempted to get back on his feet while still held and conceded a penalty 30 metres out in front of the posts. All of Seaham held its breath and prayed that the kick would be wayward but the home fly half nailed it with the final play and, for the second successive season, Newton Aycliffe knocked Seaham out at the semi-final stage with a late penalty.

Many may have been quick to criticise poor Gary for conceding the penalty but his was just one of many soft penalties conceded on the day; most of them down to silly schoolboy errors. Seaham will now need to reflect on todays game and learn the error of their ways. Their coach will be keen to identify and work on their weak points in Wednesday night training sessions.

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