16/17 1st XV. Barnard Castle 0 - 28 1st XV.

1st XV won 28 – 0 away to Barnard Castle. Match report thanks to Walter Ritchie:

Well it does not get much better than this with a very well deserved 5 point win against the top-of-the-table team Barnard Castle. All 18 players and coaches are be congratulated on, in my opinion, the very best all round performance of the season.

Right from the start Northern were up for it and, in contrast to the game at home when Barnard Castle scored 4 tries in the opening 30 minutes, they dominated all facets of the game and forced Barnie to give away penalties. Ali Gray kicked 2 penalties for Northern before Harrison Clark pounced on a loose ball to score an unconverted try. Concerted pressure then allowed Chalky White to force his way over, and again Ali Gray improved. Barnard Castle spent 7 or 8 minutes in the Northern 25 attempting to force their way over before skipper Alex Clark, in great form, made a 50 yard break which almost resulted in another try. The line outs were dominated by Laurence Annis, Tom Harrison and Robert Harnby and Barnie were having to live off crumbs - Northern were deservedly 18-0 in the lead at half time.

Now with the slope in their favour Northern continued to be in control and although Barnie looked dangerous at times the Northern defence was watertight. Sensible use of the subs by coach Dave Guthrie kept up the pressure and Harrison Clark took full advantage of another Barnie mistake to score his second try and increase Northern’s lead to 23-0.  In the last minute of the game Alex Clark pounced and a determined run saw him score a try in the corner and so claim the bonus point which at the end of the season could be so critical.

Naturally, back in their club-house, Barnie were very disappointed and to add to their bad day at the office the club electrics failed - the beer pumps were out of action as were their televisions.  Barnard Castle Cricket Club proved an alternative venue and the Black Horse pub also welcomed extra business from the players and supporters, one of whom arrived at the game just in time to seeing Alex Clark scoring the final try! This unnamed Irishman (a former president of Northern) however entertained the locals with his charm and wit and witnessed the demolition of Scotland and with every English try wondered if he should really go to Ireland next weekend. Naturally l was to blame for not letting him know today’s revised kick-off time.

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