Sat. 27th September 2014. Northern Wanderers vs Billingham II. Candy League 1 Home.
Northern fielded a side with 8 changes from the previous week so continuity was always going to be an issue. Making their season debuts were Harrison Clark in the back row, Lee Longstaff at lock and Dan Matthews on the wing. There was also a guest appearance by Connell Stewart in the centre. Having said this Northern started the game as they finished the previous one with drive and purpose and after pinning Billingham back from the kick off good back row play with Harrison Clark prominent led to the ball being moved right and slick hands put wing Dan Matthews in for an excellent try put wide on 4 minutes. This was converted with a fine kick by back row Ryan Moore. Northern continued to press from the kick off and were rewarded when Billingham conceded a penalty on 7 minutes which Ryan Moore kicked to extend the lead. The game was confined to the Billingham half and on 17 minutes Billingham conceded another penalty which just bounced off the post after a good strike by Ryan Moore. From the drop out Northern ran the ball back and moved it wide left to centre Anth Baird who spurned the overlap and powered over for an unconverted try on 18 minutes. Northern continued to press but were unable to add to their scores and in the last few minutes of half Billingham started to put some phases of play together. With time almost up and injury to Anth Baird in the Northern 22 forced some changes whilst he was replaced for treatment. The Billingham pack took advantage of this disruption and from a tapped penalty their big pack drove over for a converted try right on time. Half time score: Northern Wanderers 15 – Billingham 7.
Billingham started the second half buoyed by their score and took the game to Northern from the restart. Northern were pinned back into their 22 and on 45 minutes the big Billingham forwards drove over for an unconverted try to reduce the deficit. Northern were sloppy again in defence and conceded a penalty for handling in the ruck on 48 minutes which Billingham kicked to tie the game. Lack of composure was affecting the Northern players and the patterns of play and composure that they had been so good at in previous weeks were missing. This lack of structure was punished when Anth Baird broke out of his 22 and running away from his support, he was closed down by the Billingham defence. Instead of kicking long he went into contact and was penalised for holding on. Billingham duly kicked the penalty on 52 minutes to take the lead. Ryan Moor had a chance to level the scores with a long range penalty on 55 minutes but his kick just fell short. Billingham took the game into Northern’s 22 from the restart where some brave defence from Northern forced a home line out 15 metres from the line. Northern took a quick throw and the ball was passed out to fly half Spike Strang who being under pressure shipped the ball on to Anth Baird for the clearing kick to touch. Unfortunately, the kick was sliced away from touch to the open side of the pitch straight at a Billingham player who promptly ran the ball back and passed to the overlap of Billingham players for a really soft try which was converted on 57 minutes. Northern rallied at this point and took the game to Billingham but due to resolute Billingham defence they could not get a score until the 75th minute when some great interplay between full back Joss Pinsent and wing Dan Matthews put full back Joss Pinsent into space in the Billingham 22. The full back put a deft kick through and Anth Baird won the race to touch down for an unconverted try. With one try required Northern continued to probe for an opportunity and with the clock ticking down were awarded a penalty on the 10 metre line. They ran the ball and recycled it in the Billingham 22. Moving the ball wide right the ball reached Anth Baird but a two man overlap was spurned and the ball was turned over when the centre tried to step inside. Billingham duly kicked the ball out to win the game. Final score: Northern Wanderers 20 – Billingham 25.
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