13/14 Wanderers. Durham City Saracens 17 - 10 Wanderers

Northern were reduced to 17 players before this game due to cry-offs and a couple of no-shows however a strong XV took the field with only four changes from the previous week. Northern were quick out of the blocks and pressurised Durham city into their own 22 from the kick off. This pressure continued for the first 25 minutes of the game but Northern showing a lack of composure and white line fever somehow managed only two missed penalty attempts on 14 and 17 minutes despite completely dominating the game. Durham were rolling on replacements in an attempt to get a foothold in the game and did manage a couple of forays into the Northern half only for Northern to launch a counter attack on 30 minutes where left wing David Bloxham made a good break only to be hauled down in the Durham 22. The Northern support was there and the ball wasrecycled to lock Matt Whiteley who powered over for a try. The conversion was good by scrum half Sam Storeyand Northern eventually took a deserved lead. Another good break by centre Doug Wilson on 34 minutes almost lead to a try and only desperate defence by Durham who conceded a penalty in the process stopped this. Scrum half Sam Story kicked the penalty to extend Northern’s lead. Durham came back from the restart and were turning over ball with their dubious counter-rucking game where players appeared to come in from the side on numerous occasions. This cost Northern as despite appearing to turn over ball themselves the referee decided a Northern player had infringed 10 metres out and Durham took a quick tapped penalty to score an unconverted try on 39 minutes very much against the run of play. Half time score: Northern Wanderers10–Durham City Saracens 5.
Northern started the second half brightly and created some space to move the ball wide only for poor handling or lack of vision to cause the move to break down. Durham continued to make changes from their large bench and their pack began to function. On 55 minutes Northern were forced to change their hooker when Ian Rice departed with a cut head and back row Matt Kaczmar moved into the front row. Durham were able to apply some pressure at this point with the referee being very lenient towards them at the breakdown and penalising Northern’s attempts to turn over ball. Then on 58 minutes scrum-halfSam Storey was harshly penalised and sin-binned at a ruck when he clearly fell over a Durham rolling player and was trapped. Durham missed the penalty but from the drop out the Durham forwards drove into the Northern pack who managed to stop the maul. Replacement hooker Matt Kaczmar managed to rip the ball off the Durham player and was driven forward by the Northern pack to form a ruck. The referee blew for what seemed to be a penalty for Northern against Durham only to give it to Durham. He also sin-binned hooker Matt Kaczmar a minute after the first sin-bin. To add insult to injury he then proceeded to tell the Northern captain that by electing for an uncontested scrum Northern would be conceding the game despite this contradicting the league rules. Northern were in disarray and tried to contest the scrum with 7 forwards and no scrum half. No surprise that Durham won the scrum and broke blind for an unconverted try on 64 minutes in the corner that was given despite what appeared to be a clear forward pass. With the game tied Northern managed to contain Durham despite having only 13 men on the pitch and created a couple more scoring opportunities in the backs only to squander these with poor play. Northern were tiring at this stage and despite the return of sin-binned Sam Storey and Matt Kaczmar Northern were not able to turn any pressure into points. On 78 minutes Durham counter attacked out of their 22 after turning the ball over and some good running and support play saw them score a good try under the posts which they converted to take the lead.Northern had one more chance to score but the ball was kicked on when a scoring pass should have been made and Durham cleared to leave the  final score:Northern Wanderers 10 – Durham City Saracens 17.

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