Saturday 12th March 2016. Northumberland senior shield semi-final. Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 74 Northern Wanderers.
On a lovely Spring day, everything seemed set for a good afternoon of rugby, however, not everything went to plan.
Firstly, following a late pitch inspection 15 minutes before kick-off, Gosforth’s 2ndteam pitch was declared unplayable as it bore more resemblance to a swamp than a playing field. The venue was quickly moved to Northern’s 2nd team pitch with a 15 minute delay to the kick off.
Secondly, as with all Northumberland Cup ties, three replacements are allowed unless up to six have been agreed by both clubs. This was not the case and Gosforth insisted on only three replacements. Credit must go to Chris Ure, Will Lawton and Neil Graham for agreeing to stand down at the last minute (Neil because Lee Thompson’s mam was there to watch him).
Thank goodness the game was entertaining with Northern playing some good rugby despite the disruptions.
The first half started with a fine unconverted try by full back Dan Matthews on 5 minutes who outpaced the wide defence closely followed by a forwards try when hooker Lloyd Holmes (who finished the day with seven strikes against the head) scored under the posts, back row Ryan Moore converting on 8 minutes. Centre Alex Turnbull blasted through the Gosforth defence to touch down on 22 minutes with Ryan Moore making good the conversion then, not to be outdone, centre Harrison Clark powered through several attempted tackles to score an unconverted try out wide on 30 minutes.
Northern continued to press and right wing Dan Kerr showed good pace to touch down on 35 minutes with Ryan Moore unluckily hitting the bar with his conversion attempt. Back row Lee Thompson impressed his mam by scoring a try under the posts on 38 minutes that Ryan Moore improved. The final score of the half was a lovely piece of skill from Dan Kerr who chipped over the static Gosforth defenders, re-gathered and shimmied through to touch down for a try that Ryan Moore again improved. Half time score: Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 43 Northern Wanderers.
The second half kicked off with David Riddles at fly-half for Paul Mawhinney and he soon put his stamp on the afternoon with a lovely move bringing left wing David Reah into the line from the blindside with the wing taking a great line to score an unconverted try on 48 minutes. Northern were regularly breaking through the Gosforth defence with good runs from Ian Brierley, Rob Richardson, Gyles Ellison and some fine interchanging between Dan Matthews, Harrison Clark and David Reah but resolute Gosforth defending prevented a score until the 55th minute when Alex Turnbull touched down after a robust run for a try that Ryan Moore converted. Alex scored his third and fourth trys on 65 and 67 minutes, both being converted by Ryan Moore. Before the final whistle, Matt Brooks had time for one of his trademark 40 metre runs, entertaining the spectators with his power and pace before signalling for oxygen and asking for a rest (refused) then David Reah scored a super try diving under the posts following a backs move with Ryan Moore unusually missing the conversion on 71 minutes. The ref. blew for time early with Gosforth conceding the game at this point giving everyone time to see the kick off of England v Wales.
Final score: Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 74 Northern Wanderers.
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