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Home > News > Seaham 26 - Whitley Bay Rockliffe 19
Your News Seaham 26 - Whitley Bay Rockliffe 19

Whitley Bay Rockcliff could have been forgiven for arriving at the Leisure Centre in optimistic spirits; particularly if theyd noted recent results and read Seahams match reports. However, the hosts benefitted from the return of several recent absentees and showed what they are capable of achieving when they pull their fingers out.

Although the weather was settled, the deluge of rain in the days leading up to the game made conditions very heavy and both teams braced themselves for a mud bath. The game kicked off energetically with both teams looking to pass the ball and carry into opposition territory. However, once they realised just how boggy things were underfoot, the game took on a more forward-orientated approach.

The hosts got off to a quick start and surged into Rockcliffs half. In the fourth minute, scrum half Brad Green broke then unleashed Glen Hardie, playing out of position in the centres. The flame-haired flier then outstripped the defence but was tackled short. The ball was passed inside for Damian Martinez and the burly prop crashed over for his third try of the season. How ironic that all three were playing their first game since the victory over Winlaton three weeks earlier. Another returnee, full back Graeme Steel, took the conversion but missed narrowly.

The visitors resumed play with vigour but Seaham retained possession and second rows Chris Bland and Andy Hogwood kept it tight and pounded upfield. Their back row trio of Ben Bell, James Ramshaw and Ryan Pink provided a dynamic link for the backs to play off and supported well at the breakdown.

The visitors gained parity on 12 minutes when they charged downfield and set up a ruck. Several phases were worked cleverly before they crashed over for a try to the right of the posts. The added conversion took them 7-5 ahead.

Three minutes later, the visitors hooker blotted his copy book when he was spotted handling at the bottom of a ruck by referee Trevor Alley. Having already issued a general warning to both captains, he was left with no choice but to issue a yellow.

Seaham tried to capitalise on their numerical advantage but the visitors defended well and held them at bay. In fact, the only significant event throughout this ten minute period occurred when Seaham winger Robbie Thornton also saw yellow on 21 minutes when he too was spotted handling in a ruck.

Even though they themselves were a man down after the visitors ranks returned to 15 men, Seaham took the lead in the 27th minute when they broke left. Number 8 Ryan Pink carried strongly and drew in two defenders before offloading a lovely- timed pass to Andrew Baxter, who hared over for his first score of the season. Steel added the conversion and Seaham were 12-7 ahead.

Seaham extended their lead shortly after the half-hour mark when Hardie took a pass and outstripped the Rockcliff defence. He took three defenders towards the corner then shipped a clever pass inside. Fly half Jack McCallum took the pass at a clever angle and ran under the posts for his third try of the season. Steels second conversion of the day stretched the lead to 12 points.

Half Time: SEAHAM (19) Whitley Bay Rockcliff (7)

The visitors came out much stronger following the break and took the game to the opposition. Seahams scrum power was compromised when Damian Martinez was forced off the field but they stayed resolute. The visitors pack was bolstered by the inclusion of two tactical substitutions which seemed to add power to their set piece.

Following a solid scrum drive in the 52nd minute, Rockcliff worked an overlap down the left flank and their winger eventually tore over for his sides second try of the day. The conversion was missed so Seaham retained a 19-12 lead.

As the game progressed, the visitors looked to be adapting to the heavy conditions better and their heavier forwards set up camp in the Seaham 22. Although Rockcliff worked patiently, the hosts defended close to the gain line and tackled superbly. However, with Seahams defence committed, the Rockcliff scrum half spotted a gap and sniped over for a try on 63 minutes. The conversion tied the scores and set up a tense finale.

Seaham had the opportunity to regain the lead on 66 minutes when a strong carry by Jonny Martin took them into the Rockcliff half and one of the visitors conceded a penalty when he went off his feet at the breakdown. Graeme Steel lined up the ball for an ambitious 40 metre attempt. The kick had the desired length but drifted right of the posts.

As the game entered its dying stages, Seaham seemed to get a second wind and upped the tempo. Jack McCallum kicked over the back of the Rockcliff defence and the ball looked destined to roll into touch but Glen Hardie won the chase and booted it back infield. Ben Bell dove on the ball and set up a ruck. The ball was then recycled and spun right. Mobile prop Jonny Martin found himself in the line and gave a pass to Jon Dye. The player-coach fumbled but regained the ball and scampered over the line for his second try of the campaign and a valuable bonus point. Steels kick stretched the lead to seven points.

Rockcliff had time for one further attack but Seaham held their nerve and kept their visitors out. Mr Alley blew for time, Seaham had their fourth league victory of the season and leapfrogged Barnard Castle into tenth place.

Full Time: SEAHAM (26) Whitley Bay Rockcliff (19)

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