How disappointing after three good wins we travelled to bottom of the table Sheffield with confidence intending to cement our place med-table with a 4 try, five point win. Alas it did not happen – why?
Was it the non-stop 3-hour bus journey or over confidence or lack of preparation? No – it just happened.
The performance was flat with very little control either at scrum or line-out (in particular) which meant we were constantly on the back foot and for once our kicking game, both out of hand and at goal, couldn’t help.
In nearly perfect conditions, although heavy underfoot in parts, Sheffield were soon into their stride and their fleet footed right wing scored in the corner after just 10 minutes. Donal Collins replied with a long range penalty and after 18 minutes we went into the lead when Matt Brown scored after good linking up play with the back row. However from that moment on we were on the back foot allowing Sheffield to score two tries, one of which was converted, with another penalty from Donal taking the half-time score to 17 – 11.
Northern rallied in the second half and were unlucky not to score from two line-out drives, once being penalised by the referee. Why? We don’t know.
Again, when pressing the Sheffield line, we lost the ball in contact which provided an opportunity for the Sheffield fleet-footed winger to speed away and put Sheffield into an 11 point lead with less than 5 minutes of the game left.
It was important for Northern to come away with at least a losing bonus point and this was achieved when Derek White carved through from 40 yards to score a spectacular try (unconverted) at the final whistle.
With our next two games against fellow league strugglers, Morpeth (away) and Middlesbrough (home), league safety is definitely in our hands and support, both home and away, is a must.