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Friday, 18 April 2014

Debatable try presents a derby double to Blaydon

STEAM rose in great plumes over the polder that was Tynedale Park on Saturday.

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Tynedale and Blaydon players struggle to come to terms with the rain-sodden conditions at Corbridge on Saturday.

The excitement generated by this dramatic derby was such that the rain which came down in unremitting sheets was turned to water vapour.

There was even an unheard of hint of crowd trouble in the sodden stand, as gentlemen old enough to know better let the occasion get the better of them.

There were so many holes in the stand roof that the water formed little cataracts down the seating, but the discomfiture was forgotten in the warm glow of a fine game.

Blaydon started as red hot favourites, coming into the game on the back of nine successive victories which had seen them climb to second in National League Division One.

Their game is built around their outstanding pack, and the laser-like kicking of stand-off Andrew Baggett, among the league’s top scorers.

For their part, Tynedale were struggling to find a fit front row, so much so that veteran club legend Peter “Bullet” Southern was named on the bench.

To make matters worse, Tynedale lost abrasive but influential number eight Ollie Stedman to injury early in the game, followed in the second half by skipper Jack Harrison.

Blaydon seemed to hold all the cards – but it took a debatable try in the stygian gloom of the closing moments for them to clinch their 10th successive win, and do the double over their Tyne Valley neighbours.

It was a great performance from Tynedale, who yet again were denied at the very death, when down to 14 men.

They had the consolation of yet another losing bonus point, and with 15, they now have two more than any other side in the league!

However, Tynedale have now lost 11 games, winning only one of their last six home games .

Seven of those defeats have come by seven points or fewer, once again highlighting the need for a specialist goalkicker.

A meagre total of 14 successful conversions from 41 home tries is simply not good enough at this level.

The patched up pack was quite magnificent, more than holding their own against the Blaydon eight.

It must have broken their hearts when their hard-earned possession was aimlessly kicked away time and time again by the half backs.

The line-out creaked alarmingly at times, but handling was surprisingly good given the wet and slippery ball.

Blaydon had wind advantage in the first half, and looked very good early on.

They carved open the Tynedale rearguard with ominous ease after just two minutes, and centre Charles Incledon strolled over for what looked a good try.

However, a touch judge intervened, and after an animated chat, Windsor referee Philip Davies ruled the try out, on the grounds that Incledon had knocked on in the act of grounding the ball.

It seemed a harsh decision, but Tynedale fans were not complaining – and even the vociferous Blaydon contingent seemed to think there would be many more scores to follow.

But it didn’t work out that way, when Stedman broke out of the Tynedale ranks on a determined run, and the ball was then taken on by full back Chris Harris.

He was held just short, but the Tynedale pack was up in support, and after some swift recycling, centre Ben Frankland showed his flanker credentials to go in by the base of the posts.

Unbelievably, fly half Matty Outson missed the conversion.

However, spurred on by the astute kicking of former Newcastle Falcons scrum half Hall Charlton, Blaydon were soon back in the Tynedale half, constantly pressing for openings.

The pressure paid off on 14 minutes, when from repeated recycling close to the line, Charlton wormed his way over for a try.

Baggett’s conversion attempt went in off the far post to give Blaydon a 7-5 lead.

The rest of the half was Blaydon’s territorially, but they were constantly cut down by Tynedale’s thumping tackling.

Frequently, Tynedale won turnover ball, and to the fans’ immense frustration, obligingly kicked it straight back to the visitors to launch another attack.

It was from one such feeble kick by Outson that Blaydon launched a killer counter attack on 38 minutes, exciting teenage full back Nathan Bailey running the ball hard into the 22, where he found a two-man overlap.

A superb tackle by Peter Moralee took out one man, but there was no stopping winger Simon Barber, who slid in at the corner.

Baggett’s kick was close, but not close enough – and he missed his first conversion attempt in nine games.

Tynedale came back well, with some impressive driv ing by the forwards, and when Blaydon strayed offside, the penalty in front of the sticks seemed a formality.

Alas, Outson’s kicking curse returned again, and he put the kick wide, meaning Tynedale turned round 12-5 in arrears.

However, they began the second half in good heart, and a clever kick by scrum half Harry Peck four minutes in was just too far in front of leading try scorer Moralee.

Andrew Murray was now on for the injured Stedman, and suddenly it was the Blaydon pack who were coming under pressure.

Tynedale had all the territory, and Tynedale hearts were in mouths when on 54 minutes, Blaydon offended and the tee was brought on for Outson.

God bless him, he put the ball straight between the posts, and the score was up to 12-8.

And six minutes later, Tynedale were again in the ascendancy, recycling the ball time and again, before Moralee picked up the ball just inside the Blaydon half after more forward pressure.

He slipped through a couple of tackles, before his blazing acceleration left defenders sprawling, and he was over for his ninth try of the season.

Outson was unable to convert this time, but Tynedale had their noses in front at 13-12

They continued to dominate, and the big Blaydon forwards were starting to look out on their feet.

However, player coach Micky Ward exhorted his troops to summon up one last effort, and it paid off.

Blaydon gained the ball, and trundled in for a good 30 metres towards the Tynedale line.

There was more than a hint of the illegal “truck and trailer” tactics, but perhaps Mr Davies was mindful of the earlier disallowed try, and let things go.

Tynedale’s defence became increasingly desperate, but after seeming to survive the onslaught, Mr Davies reached into his pocket, and showed Andrew Murray his customary yellow card.

The simple penalty would have put Blaydon back in front, but they chose to kick for touch instead.

The gamble paid off though, as another great catch and drive against Tynedale‘s depleted ranks saw flanker Rob Bell touch down.

Baggett bounced the conversion over off the bar this time, and Blaydon were 19-13 ahead in the gloaming.

Soon after the restart, it was all over, and Blaydon celebrated as though all their Christmases had come at once.

There was still drama to come though, as the idiots at the back of the stand had an unseemly and thankfully brief go at each other.

Then there were the problems of negotiating the archipelago of the car park if you were lucky, or even worse, trying to get your car off the mudbath which was the grassy overspill car park!

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