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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Festive flops are torn apart in derby duel

BLAYDON folk hero Micky Ward assumed the regal mantle of King Herod on Saturday when he masterminded a latter day Slaughter of the Innocents.

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Tynedale’s New Zealander Dan Temm is held as he tries to break through the Blaydon line on Saturday.

The Innocents in question were Tynedale, who were put to the sword as ruthlessly as any Bethlehem babe in this festive fixture.

It was fitting that the massacre took place on the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year – it was certainly the darkest derby day Tynedale have experienced since joining the league.

Tynedale took the lead after just 27 seconds, creating the vain hope that the adage about form counting for nothing in derby encounters was a valid one.

Alas, folklore gave way to grim reality as Tynedale had their necks stretched and giblets removed like so many Christmas turkeys.

The Blaydon faithful chortled in glee as “the Red Boys” ran in seven sparkling tries against their red-faced opponents just up the Tyne Valley.

It was Tynedale’s 16th successive away defeat and their 13th reversal of this bleak mid-winter so far.

They are now a full 10 points away from safety, with just 13 games left in which to save themselves from their first ever relegation.

There will need to be a massive improvement to pull off the great escape though, as too many tackles were missed, too much ball surrendered and too many lost causes given up too early.

Late in the game, as Tynedale were enjoying a rare spell of possession, Blaydon winger Simon Barber pulled off an interception deep inside his own 22, and hared off towards the distant Tynedale line.

Tynedale’s wing men Sep Visser and Dan Rundle turned and streaked after him, and to their eternal credit, pulled him down just a yard from the try line.

However, there was no sign of any other men in blue and white chasing back, while Blaydon were there in numbers to regain possession and score a simple try.

Tynedale can point to the fact that their well-publicised injury list and the youthfulness of their side put them at a disadvantage, but it should also be pointed out that two of Blaydon’s tries came from the exciting Zach Kibirige, who is only 19.

Another try scorer, Tom Penny, was only 19 last month, so if they’re good enough, they are old enough.

Blaydon were smarting for revenge after losing at Tynedale Park by a single point in the second game of the season.

Indeed the Crow Trees outfit lost all four of their opening games – before then embarking on a run of 10 consecutive wins to zoom up the table.

A narrow defeat in monsoon conditions at Fylde last Saturday sharpened their minds, and Tynedale – fielding only six of the players who started in September – were perhaps fortunate not to lost by even more.

Yet they could not have made a better start. Gavin Beasley’s excellent kick off was spilled by home fly half Andrew Baggett, Tynedale pounced, and outside centre Chris Harris dotted the ball down before most people had taken their seats.

Just 27 seconds had elapsed, and when Beasley converted, Tynedale fans dared to hope an upset could be on the cards.

Sadly, that was as good as it got, with Tynedale not even coming close to scoring again for the remaining 78 minutes.

Spurred on by their banty cock of a scrum half Andy Davies, Blaydon were superior in all departments, seldom even having to exploit Tynedale’s Achilles heel, the rolling maul.

Baggett opened their account with a penalty on eight minutes when Tynedale were offside.

Blaydon went ahead on 12 minutes, when they punched holes through a Tynedale line-out for flanker Ben Morris to crash over.

Baggett missed the kick, but three minutes later, Blaydon were over again, when a smooth handling move saw Tynedale run out of tacklers, allowing lock Chris Wearmouth to touch down.

Baggett converted via the upright to put Blaydon 15-7 in front.

From the restart, Blaydon were adjudged guilty of crossing by referee Andrew Taylorson, but Tynedale refused the easy three points to go for a five metre line out.

They secured the line out ball, but were then driven back mercilessly by the Blaydon pack to the 10 metre line – and dropped the ball.

On 21 minutes, Tynedale tried to run a couple of penalties, but got nowhere, and when the roles were reversed, a quickly taken tap saw centre Tommy Banks skate in for Baggett to convert.

Blaydon piled on the agony with a Baggett penalty for offside on the half hour.

Tynedale’s day was summed up just before the interval, when the elusive Kibirige got the ball just outside the Tynedale 22.

He was double tackled with some venom, but neither tackler could hold him, and he rose to his feet, still with the ball in hands, and strolled in under the posts to clinch the four-try bonus point.

Baggett’s conversion made it an embarrassing 32-7 to Blaydon at the break.

It could have been much worse at the start of the second half, when within a minute Blaydon had a three on one advantage – but knocked on the scoring pass.

They could have scored again when they won the resultant scrum against the head, but were again penalised for crossing.

The respite was only temporary though, for five minutes in, Tynedale’s tackling was again found wanting, and Kibirige was in for his second try.

The kick failed, but the gap was up to 37-7.

Tynedale rang the changes, bringing on fresh legs, including Matty Outson at full back.

If everyone tackled like young Matty, perhaps the picture would not be quite so black.

Tynedale enjoyed a brief period of attacking, but Blaydon’s defence was as tight as an aging movie star’s forehead.

Eventually, Tynedale lost possession, and play swept to their other end of the field, where Baggett grabbed a try which he converted himself to make it 44-7 on 65 minutes.

With the game won, Blaydon took their foot off the pedal, allowing Tynedale a prolonged spell of possession for the first time in the game.

No matter how they tried though, their efforts came to nothing against the thin red line of the Blaydon defence.

With two minutes left, a long looped pass by Beasley was accepted gratefully by Barber, who seemed certain to score as he set off on a pitch long gallop.

Visser’s miraculous tackle deserved better support from his team-mates, but they were conspicuous by their absence as Blaydon seized the loose ball for Penny to flop over on the left.

Baggett’s conversion registered the half-century and it is a measure of Blaydon’s superiority that the final points total was “only” 51.

Blaydon’s player coach Ward received a Strictly Come Dancing style ovation when he brought himself on towards the end – and how richly he deserved it!

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