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Home > News > Seaham 22 - Chester Le Street 16
Your News Seaham 22 - Chester Le Street 16

Seaham fielded a full-strength squad for the Durham County Junior Plate final against Chester-le-Street. Although several amongst their ranks were disappointed to miss out on selection for the match day squad, they still demonstrated great loyalty to their club by adding their support from the touchline.

The opening quarter of the match was equally contested with both packs looking to gain ascendancy. However, it was the graft put in by the Seaham eight that led to the opening score. They stole a nudge on a Chester scrum and when their scrum half attempted to pass from the base he was nailed by counterpart Gary Rutter. The wily veteran claimed the ball and recycled for further phases by Mark Wilson, Dave Drinkwater and Steve Sanderson before picking from the base of a ruck and crossing the try line. The referee, Mike Hodgson, was unsure initially but awarded a try after consulting touch judge Dave Swainson. With Dave Hayes' conversion attempt drifting to the right of the posts the score remained 5-0 after 23 minutes.

Chester raced out of the blocks from the restart and were rewarded a penalty when Ben Bell strayed over the top at a ruck. Fortunately for the back rower, the penalty attempt drifted to the right of the posts. Chester's fly half had a second bit of the cherry on the half-hour mark after Seaham strayed offside at a ruck. The ball sailed between the posts this time to narrow the deficit to 5-3.

Seaham were reduced to 14 men in the 36th minute when Ben Bell was sin-binned for going over the top at a ruck and killing the ball. Chester took advantage and applied pressure in the opposition's half. Seaham defended stubbornly but were penalised in front of the posts and a second penalty by Chester's fly half earned them a 6-5 lead with 38 minutes on the clock.

Half Time: SEAHAM (5) Chester-le-Street (6)

Seaham made a trio of substitutions at the break. Gary Lynn, Henry Brace and Paul King replaced Steve Meir, Gary Rutter and Rob Thornton respectively. Chester tried to make the most of their extra man following the interval and stretched their lead to 9-5 after 42 minutes when Seaham were penalised for not releasing the ball after a tackle.

Bell's return to the fray in the 46th minute allowed Seaham some stability and their pack were able to fully exert their influence on proceedings once again. Chester's pack appeared to have no answer to Seaham's rolling maul and, with Andrew Baxter, Mark Wilson and Stu Barrass in the middle of everything, the Harbour juggernaut rumbled menacingly towards the try line. Dynamic flanker Dan Cahill spotted a gap and pounced over the line to regain the lead with his side's second try of the day. Dave Hayes converted this time to give Seaham a 12-9 advantage on 48 minutes.

Chester had their big number 8 sin-binned in the 55th minute when he was adjudged over the top at a ruck. Paul King attempted to stretch Seaham's lead even further with a penalty but his effort fell short and Chester cleared their lines. Being a man down didn't appear to affect Chester as they took a 57th minute lead. A knock-on by Paul King awarded Chester an attacking scrum. They spun the ball left but the vigilance of John Dixon, Stuart Tisseman and Lee Phillips held them at bay for numerous phases. However. their resilience paid off when a deft pass to their openside flanker saw him cross for a try to the left of the posts. The conversion saw Chester take a 16-12 lead.

Seaham kept plugging away with stand-in skipper Dave Drinkwater and big second row Steve Sanderson orchestrating their rolling mauls. Drinkwater hung out of the final phase and when the ball was popped out to him by Henry Brace he bulldozed over the line to regain the lead with a 61st minute try. Hayes' third conversion attempt of the day sailed wide so the lead remained tender at 17-16.

Peter Wood replaced Dan Cahill in the 68th minute as both sides looked to consolidate their efforts for the tense closing stages. Chester looked to use their speedy backs but they were stifled close to the advantage line by some thumping tackles. Seaham's forwards proved to be the more productive force as their tight play sapped the energy out of their adversaries. A 71st minute sequence of play saw Seaham's pack rumble to within a yard of the Chester line before Henry Brace popped a lovely pass to Paul King, who duly crossed for his side's fourth try of the day. Had the conversion been slotted by Hayes, his side would have taken an eight point lead into the countdown to full-time. However, his narrow miss meant that Chester were still in with a shout, trailing by 22-16.

Seaham made a triple substitution before the restart with Chris Burdess, Gareth Hawkins and Andy Hogwood replacing John Dixon, Glen Hardie and Stu Barrass respectively.Chester were awarded a dubious penalty in the 73rd minute which was missed initially but retaken after Mr Hodgson ruled that a child had strayed onto the field whilst the penalty was being attempted. The kick was retaken but drifted left and Seaham breathed a sigh of relief as they retained their 6-point lead.

Desparation was the order of the day as the sides played out the final six minutes. Chester looked to land a try near the posts for an easy conversion and single-point victory whereas Seaham looked to defend their lead at all costs. Chester handled well as they edged ever closer to the Harbour line but a shuddering tackle by Dave Hayes caused a knock on with time up on the referee's watch. From the resulting scrum the ball was passed to Hayes and he found touch with the last play of the game to seal a memorable victory for Seaham.

Full Time: SEAHAM (22) Chester-le-Street (16).

Treasurer of the Durham County RFU, Dave Thompson, presented the trophy to skipper Dave Drinkwater and complemented both teams on what had been a fine match played in the true spirit of the game.

Seaham secretary Neil Roseberry expressed his delight after the match..."It's lovely to get our hands on this trophy at the third time of asking. All credit to the Chester-le-Street lads; they made a good old go of it and gave us a game we'll be talking about for some time."

"Some of our older lads are more accustomed to success; having played in the renowned Seaham teams of the 80s and 90s as well as at a higher level. However, the younger lads have never known the success of their predecessors, so today will be particularly sweet for them. I particularly enjoyed the reaction of our supporters at the final whistle; especially our club chairman Dave Bell."

"We now look forward to returning to Dairy Lane next week for the Dave Giblin Memorial Match in memory of our dear departed friend. After that game we'll then be able to draw a line under a season which will now be deemed a success by many."

Seaham RUFC will provide a coach to Houghton for the Dave Giblin Memorial Match. Anyone interested in booking a seat please contact club captain Peter Wood on 07766 825624 for further details.

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