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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Frankland emerges as Tynedale’s four-try hero

FRANKIE went to Hollywood on Saturday with a match-winning four-try tour de force against mighty Blackheath.

The trouble was virtually no-one in the bumper crowd knew it was Ben Frankland who had touched down four times to secure Tynedale’s third successive maximum points haul.

For Front Line Frankie merely applied the finishing touches to a majestic performance from the superb Tynedale pack.

In the avalanche of bodies over the line on a murky and dismal afternoon, no-one could see who had got the final touch.

Announcer Graham Harrison hesitantly credited one to Matty Charters, and another to Andy Buist – and had no idea at all about another, but Frankland did get credit for one.

It was only in the post match huddle that it emerged Frankland had got a clean sweep – and by this time most of the crowd had gone home, and Tynedale’s notorious Norman Collier microphone had been packed away.

He was then rightly feted by those who remained, and celebrated by quaffing a yard of ale in the bar!

All four of Frankland’s tries came from thundering forward drives, as they trampled relentlessly on like Serengeti gnus scenting water.

It could have been five tries for Frankland, but referee Wayne Falla denied him by awarding a penalty try when the forwards were on the rampage yet again.

It was testament to Frankland’s versatility that he claimed the tries.

He spent his first few years at the club as a back row forward, but for the last two or three seasons, he has been playing at outside centre.

However, the flanker’s instinct returned with a vengeance as he was in the right place at the right time to apply the coup de grace.

He could not have done it without the pack, with the front row of Sam White, Stephen Ridley and Mark Irving quite stupendous.

Behind them, Graeme Dunn and Andy Buist toiled heroically in the boiler house, with breakaways Dan Temm, Matthew Fieldhouse and Matt Charters also awe-inspiring.

It’s three years since Tynedale last won three games in a row – Redruth, Cambridge and Otley in March 2011 – and the win took them out of the relegation zone for the first time since October.

True, fellow strugglers Cinderford have a game in hand, but for the first time this season, there is a spring-like air of optimism around Tynedale Park.

The win was achieved despite the fact that fly half Gavin Beasley was a limping passenger for the game as he nursed a queasy quadriceps.

And either side of half time, they played with just 13 men, and both line out jumpers Andy Buist and Dan Temm were in the sin bin.

But Tynedale defended magnificently, protecting their line like a lioness protecting her cubs.

Skipper for the day Hamish Smales had a superb game, leading by example, and there was a breathtakingly mature display of kicking from teenage full back Craig Willis.

Blackheath are among the aristocrats of the game, but they have fallen on hard times, rather like some ancient earl shuffling round his decaying pile in mouldering smoking jacket and tasselled cap.

The Club, as they are affectionately known, actually started the brighter, with a buccaneering run by leonine prop James Cleverly taking him deep into Tynedale territory.

He was eventually tackled, but the Londoners remained encamped in the Tynedale 22 for six minutes, at which point the home side were rather relieved to escape with only a penalty against them by Blackheath fly half Dave Marshall.

Tynedale then took the game by the scruff of the neck, spurred on by the precision kicking of Willis.

After 11 minutes, a penalty was kicked to touch, and from the catch and drive, Tynedale forced their way over the line for the first score.

Willis converted brilliantly from a foot inside the touchline to give Tynedale a 7-3 advantage.

Tynedale continued to dominate, but their line-out was still wonky, with more ball lost than won as hooker Stephen Ridley consistently missed his man.

On the half hour though, they got one right, and the Tynedale pack steamrollered over for the second try, courtesy of Frankland.

The kick failed, and that seemed to inspire Blackheath, who enjoyed their best spell of the game in the next 15 minutes.

They gained the edge up front, and started to enjoy some forward supremacy.

Things became a little scrappy, and Andy Buist was sent to the sin bin on 37 minutes for a mauling offence, which led to Mr Falla awarding the visitors a penalty try. This was converted by Marshall to bring the score back to 12-10.

Things looked bleak for Tynedale when two minutes later, Kiwi flanker Dan Temm joined him on the sidelines after more desperate defence.

Two men down, another Blackheath score seemed inevitable as they turned the screw, but the magnificent Tynedale six kept them at bay.

It remained 12-10 at half time, and Tynedale continued to defy them after the break – although Blackheath did themselves no favours with a try line knock-on.

Tynedale held on without further alarums, Willis even coming close with a penalty before the two miscreants returned.

Despite the clear line-out frailties, Willis kept peppering the touchline with kicks, and on 53 minutes, another lineout catch and drive sent the pack fairly galloping over the line for Frankland to score. Willis missed the kick, but Tynedale were 17-10 in front.

Blackheath were now in disarray, giving away a string of penalties in quick succession, and after being quick to flash the yellows before the break, it was something of a mystery why he kept them tucked away after the break.

On 65 minutes, another dominant Tynedale forward surge lured Blackheath into the murky waters of foul play, and it was Tynedale‘s turn to be awarded a penalty try to secure the four try bonus point.

Willis added the extras to a huge cheer from the crowd.

Still Frankland wasn’t finished for on 73 minutes he peeled off yet another forward drive for the fifth try, again converted by Willis.

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