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Home > News > Winlaton Vulcans 8 - Seaham 22
Your News Winlaton Vulcans 8 - Seaham 22

Seaham travelled to Axwell View for a must-win league fixture against basement rivals, Winlaton Vulcans. To add extra spice, the tie was also being played as a Junior Cup semi final. With the hosts being holders of the trophy, and also fighting for survival, it was obvious they were going to be extremely determined opponents.

In the days preceding the fixture, the selectors spirits were buoyant; in spite of the fact they were missing Glen Hardie and John Dixon from the back line, and John Dawson, Dan Cahill and James Ramshaw from the forwards. And, in spite of Mark Wilsons late withdrawal on the morning of the game, Seaham still remained focused on the task at hand.

Winlaton started the game strongest, playing down the slope with a harsh icy cold wind blowing across the field. Their pack looked strong in the set pieces and they drove Seahams scrum back almost at will. Fortunately for Seaham, their number 8, Ryan Pink, remained alert and was able to pick the ball from the retreating mess for scrum half Brad Green to distribute.

Winlatons centres looked threatening early on and found several gaps in Seahams defensive lines. They came desperately close to scoring on two occasions but excellent covering by Graeme Aldus, Jon Dye and Rob Thornton prevented certain scores.

The hosts had to content themselves with a penalty for all of their efforts after the visitors were charged with collapsing a rolling maul. Their fly half kept his cool and slotted the ball through the posts from 25 metres for a 3-0 lead on 12 minutes.

The hosts looked to build a head of steam and consolidate their score but were held at bay by some big tackles courtesy of barnstorming flanker Grant Dixon. Several caused spillages but Ben Bell was at hand to pounce on every loose ball and secure possession for his men.

Eventually, the pendulum begun to swing in Seahams favour. They were awarded several penalties, Graeme Steel kicked into the corners. They took the lead in the 19th minute when a strong charge by second row Chris Bland took him close to the hosts try line. Brad Green scooped up the ball and fired a quick pass to fly half Jack McCallum. The flame-haired youth then threw an outrageous dummy before darting over between the posts for the opening try of the game. Graeme Steel added the extras and Seaham were now 7-3 ahead.

With the early nerves now out of their system, Seaham began to knuckle down and exert some pressure. Although hooker Kurt Millers throwing was somewhat erratic at times, and the support from their lifters was inconsistent, lineout jumpers Ben Bell and Mick Bland won solid possession. A catch and drive from one such lineout caused the hosts to infringe and Graeme Steel converted a penalty to stretch the lead to 10-3.

Ryan Pinks bulldozing runs were becoming a constant feature of the game and he sucked in several defenders each time he carried forward. He also demonstrated excellent leadership qualities and encouraged his fellow forwards every time the going got tough.

Graham Aldus and Jon Dye looked as solid as ever in midfield. Their defensive attributes were matched by the threat they posed in attack. Aldus made trademark strong runs and battered his way upfield. Dyes unfailing offloads in the tackle also created overlaps on several occasions.

The Harbour came close to extending their lead just before the interval when another heavy hit by Grant Dixon caused a turnover in midfield. Graeme Steel set off on a good run but ran out of space and support before being penalised for not releasing the ball after being tackled.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Seaham extended their lead when their forwards won quick ball in midfield and Brad Green once again fed a quick flat pass to Jack McCallum. The young fly half then pinned his ears back and outstripped the defence to register his ninth try of the season. Steels second conversion of the day gave the visitors some breathing space at the interval.

Half Time: Winlaton Vulcans (3) SEAHAM (17)

The opening stages of the second half began to follow a similar pattern with Seaham now enjoying the advantage of the slope. Their props Jonny Martin and Gary Lynn carried well and also put in some big hits in defence to stifle Winlaton whenever they threatened.

The hosts scrum looked less convincing after they had withdrawn their dominant tight head prop at the interval. This enabled Seaham the luxury of steady ball at their own scrum and they even began to threaten the Winlaton put in and force penalties.

Seaham registered a third try on 51 minutes when they earned a penalty in midfield and Jack McCallum put it in the corner for a lineout. Mick Bland took a safe catch and his forwards attempted to drive him over the line. Following several blocked phases, Chris Bland eventually broke away and forced his way over the line for his third try of the season. Graeme Steel had less luck with his conversion but his side was now 22-3 ahead.

Not to be completely outdone, the Vulcans reclaimed their restart and, within a minute had scored a try of their own. They worked an overlap with clever passing and their wing received a long high pass and raced over in the left corner for a well deserved try. The conversion was missed so Seaham retained the advantage of being two converted tries clear.

Fiery hooker Kurt Miller could count himself lucky not to see yellow on 57 minutes when he took exception and attempted to punch his tackler. Fortunately, it resulted in little more than an unnecessary bout of shirt pulling before order was restored.

The final quarter of the match almost mirrored to opening stages with the plucky hosts going all out to register the scores they so desperately needed to keep their grip on the trophy, and also their place in Division Two. However, their vigour in attack was matched by Seahams tough defence.

Seaham attempted to register a fourth try and secure a priceless bonus point. As the game entered its dying stages, mistakes began to creep in and numerous penalties were awarded to Winlaton as Seaham clung on to their lead. Fortunately, Ben Bell and Ryan Pink marshalled the troops and ensured that their lines remained intact.

Full Time: Winlaton Vulcans (8) SEAHAM (22)

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