By Malcolm Stokoe
Could anything else go wrong?
It was our first visit to North Shields RFC for quite a few years, but we knew the hosts would be really up for the contest. We were right! The catastrophes we encountered before we even kicked off were to prove a major obstacle to our performance. Firstly at least five of our senior players were not available; then one of our selected team cried off in the morning and then one of our centres strained a hamstring in the warm-up! However, we did manage to start on time.
Maty Struthers kicked off and immediately Matty Marshall got us into the corner, from where we gained an early penalty opportunity. That, and a couple of others, were to prove inconclusive, before North Shields were to score an converted try completely against the run of play. Unfortunately, a charged-down kick was to land in Simon Ayre's hands for him to score by the posts before his successful conversion on fifteen minutes. This was also to see fly-half. Matty Marshall, leave the field - not to return. The limping Ryan Gillespie
almost had to take his place with Jack Redfern
moving to fly-half. To make matters worse, just four minutes later, wing, James Weaver
, was to make some good ground before accidently clashing heads and having to leave the field - again permanently- after advice from physio, Simon. This brought another major reshuffle with hooker, Alex Miller
, coming on and Marc Burton
moving out to the wing. On 25 minutes Shields were to score a second try through Scott Rendles, which was not converted to leave the score at 0-12 to the hosts. It stayed the same with Gosforth continuing to strive for a first score. On 33 minutes a brilliant piece of interplay between Adam Barrass
and Darren Kelly
saw the former storm over behind the posts for Jack Redfern
to convert. (7-12). However, ex Gosforth wing, Chris McCabe, was to score a good try for Shields on the stroke of half-time, which was again converted by Ayre, leaving the half-time score at 7-19.
Play followed a similar pattern to the first, as the second half got underway. On 48 minutes McCabe crossed for his second unconverted try (7-24). This seemed to spur Gosforth on, when powerful runs by Ryan Gillespie
and Maty Struthers culminated with Adam Barrass
strolling over for his second try, which wasn't converted (12-24). Unfortunately, Gillespie was forced to leave the field after his run and almost from the restart a quickly taken penalty resulted in McCabe scoring his hat-trick try, again unconverted (12-29). Gosforth were to go down to fourteen men, as replacement, John Rooney
, had also strained his hamstring playing for the 2's on the neighbouring pitch! They were still not prepared to roll over, and, on 63 minutes lock, Dan Tucker
, was to steal a line-out ball and was on hand to finish off a good forward drive, halfway out. Redfern converted well for 19-29. Again Shields were to score another try almost immediately through lock, Dave Anderson, for Ayre to convert (19-36). After working their way upfield, Gosforth were to win another line-out some twenty metres out from the home line, and, following another excellent forward drive, our stalwart prop, Pete Lyon, was to score his first ever 1st XV try on his third appearance on 34 minutes. Again Redfern converted (26-36). This, at least, was a bonus-point try! There was still time for Shields to score one more converted try by their No8, Andrew Leitch, to leave the final score 26-43 to the hosts, who were worthy winners. However, the fourteen Gosforth lads left on the field were to be applauded for their sterling effort in defeat, especially considering the disruptions encountered both before and during the game.
Next week sees us back at Broadway West, where we host South Shields. KO is 3 pm.