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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Ref makes Tyne pay for their sins

NORTH Shields referee Wayne Falla was taking no chances of being accused of being a homer by high flying Esher on Saturday.

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Matty Outson tries to break through the stubborn Esher defence.

For he sent off Tynedale lock Graeme Dunn for what he deemed a dangerous tackle, condemning Tynedale to play most of the second half with just 14 men.

He also awarded TWO penalty tries against Tom Borthwick’s men, as well as sin-binning a player late on to ensure Tynedale ended the game with just 13 players.

Despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Tynedale still led going into injury time, and did not bow the knee until the very last play of the game.

The game finished in near darkness, but it was not as black as the feelings of the Tynedale faithful towards the official.

The rare sound of boos rattled round the stand, and after the game, sheepish Esher officials confessed they were more than a little lucky to have gained maximum points.

One said: “I did not think Dunn deserved a red card – a yellow card would have been more than enough.

“I can’t help feeling that the wrong side won today.”

It was a quite magnificent performance by Tynedale, which deserved more than the two bonus points they ended the day with.

Tynedale had a game plan, which oh so nearly worked.

Playing into a strong wind in the first half, they kicked high at every opportunity in a bid to keep the ball away from Esher’s well drilled pack, notoriously adept at pick and drive tactics.

After the break, with wind advantage, Matty Outson kicked intelligently into space, and had Tynedale kept a full complement on the field, the result could well have been different.

It is small consolation that Tynedale now have more bonus points than any other side in the league, with 13 – one more than league leaders Ealing Trailfinders.

Esher, playing in bible black, looked impressive early on when playing with the wind, and took a fourth minute lead with a well struck penalty from full back Rob Kirby.

However, the full back failed to clean up with another wind assisted penalty which drifted wide.

Tynedale announced themselves in fine style on eight minutes, when after a good break by flanker Sam Reynolds, full back Chris Harris danced into the 22 to send in winger Hamish Smales for the opening try.

There were huge roars when fly half Matty Outson crashed over the rarity of conversion into the wind, and Tynedale led 7-3.

Kirby missed another penalty on 14 minutes, but Tynedale were starting to struggle a bit, notably in the line-out, where the throw-in was wayward in the extreme.

The game was 24 minutes old before they won their first line out – but promptly lost possession.

Four minutes later, Esher went ahead, when from a scrum, the Surrey men engineered a big overlap, and winger Spencer Sutherland was able to slide in right on the touchline.

Kirby produced a superb kick from right on the touchline to put the visitors 10-7 in front.

Tynedale had the chance to draw level on the half hour, when after a typically effervescent break from scrum half Harry Peck, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts.

The crowd held its breath as Outson lined it up – and exhaled it in a sad sigh when he pushed the ball horribly wide of the uprights.

Disappointment was shortlived though, for after Esher had been given a warning for persistent infringement at the breakdown, Harris made another of his devastating bursts.

He got the ball out to the gazelle-like Peter Moralee, who streaked down his wing to score an unconverted try.

That gave Tynedale a 12-10 interval lead, which set up a gripping second period, when Tynedale would have wind advantage.

Sadly, the second half started disastrously, when Peck’s clearance kick was charged down by the industrious Sutherland in the Tynedale 22.

He appeared to ground the ball cleanly enough, but Mr Falla spotted a heinous sin at the grounding, and ran under the posts to indicate he was awarding a penalty try. What could have been a difficult conversion from the touchline became a straightforward one in front of the sticks, and Kirby obliged to make it 17-12.

Then came Dunn’s sending off, for a tackle which ended with Esher prop Dave Millard landing high on his back.

There certainly seemed no malice aforethought, or a deliberate attempt to spear his man down, but Mr Falla saw it differently, and Dunn saw red.

Tynedale could have buckled under the double blow, but instead raised their game to new heights.

The 14 men were not to be denied, and from a close range line-out, flanker Sam Reynolds went over for an excellent try, converted by Outson to made it 19-17.

It was the visitors who now looked all at sea, and they were down to 14 men when flanker Peter Synnott was yellow carded for an improper tackle.

Both sides were going at it hammer and tongs, fierce Tynedale pressure being met by equally good Esher tackling.

It looked odds on a Tynedale success with five minutes left, when from a scrum, the rumbustious Ollie Stedman barreled over for Outson to convert to take the score to 26-17.

But then Mr Falla lent a hand, brandishing a yellow card at Ben Frankland for coming in at the side of a non-existent maul.

The home crowd was apoplectic, and Esher, unable to believe their luck, attacked the 13 men in numbers, using their extra bodies to fashion the opening for prop Millard to score in the final minute of normal time.

The kick failed, so Tynedale still led 26-22 in the first three minutes of injury time.

Tynedale resisted an endless wave of attacks heroically, and in the stygian gloom, Mr Falla missed a clear knock on, despite being advised of his oversight by the crowd.

Play was allowed to continue, and from a Tynedale scrum, Esher got a shove on, and in the hurly-burly that followed, Mr Falla ran under the posts for the second time for the second penalty try.

Kirby’s apologetic conversion was a foregone conclusion, and Tynedale’s efforts had all been in vain.

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