1st Team Match Reports
Hopes of a bounce-back to National League 2 North for Blaydon were effectively scuppered in the opening 40 minutes of this play-off for promotion when the home side, playing against the elements, ran in 3 tries unanswered.
Luctonians on the day made better use of the conditions and with crisper handling and running were deserved winners, Blaydon only coming into it in the final quarter with 2 tries of their own.
Blaydon started well enough but 10 minutes of pressure brought no reward and when they dropped the ball on half-way were immediately made to pay. Man of the match Josh Watkins, the Luctonians full-back, sped clear down the wing for the first of his 2 tries and fly-half Lewis Silver added the conversion to make it 7-0.
When Blaydon erred as they had for the opening score Watkins was in again, this time from a smart diagonal break and on 35 minutes quick handling by the home side resulted in try No3 from winger Drew Cheshire with Silver once more on target.
With the interval approaching Blaydon finally got their side of the score-board moving having worked their way upfield for Jamie Guy to put over a penalty and make it 19-3 at the break.
Sadly the interval brought no relief for the visitors with Luctonians continuing as they had left off with 2 more tries in the opening 15 minutes of the second period. Their hooker Guy Kirby crossed near the posts from a forward drive and winger John Morris also touched down under the woodwork from an excellent handling movement with Silver landing a 3rd conversion to make it 31-3 with 20 minutes remaining.
Having been on the back foot for much of the previous 60 minutes Blaydon at last began to dominate the forward exchanges and salvage some pride. Five minutes of persistent pressure in the home 22, led in style by skipper Keith Laughlin, brought an opening score for centre Alex Clark plus the extras from Guy.
It was now the turn of the home side to be on the back foot and unable to cope with the power of the opposition forwards, and Blaydon at least had the consolation of finishing strongly and securing a second try when Guy went over from a breakdown and added the conversion himself.
Blaydon will play Luctonians away on 27th April, winner takes the final promotion spot to National Two North
Blaydon and Harrogate both take maximum points in the play off race, while Billingham lose at Alnwick with 2 games to go.
Midland Premier – Luctonians still in 2nd place
Blaydon secure maximum points and move ahead of Harrogate who beat leaders Hull and with Billingham taking maximum points at Vale of Lune, the playoff spot is still a 3 horse race with Blaydon needing to secure maximum points from their last 3 games to ensure they finish in that spot.
Photos by Stephen Billington
Blaydon playoff campaign was dealt a big blow yesterday in a game where things just went against us; we lost 2 props so had to play with 14 players, (not being allowed to put on a sub when we went uncontested) a gale was blowing across the pitch so a penalty hit the post, we lost possession too cheaply in opposition 22 and then lost to the last play of the game.
Credit to Billingham their defence was good as Blaydon dominated possession and territory.
The playoff spot is now 3 team race with Harrogate coming into the mix, with Billingham holding the initiative, both Billingham and Harrogate have to play Hull. Blaydon have no remaining fixtures against top 4 teams, so Blaydon are not out of this yet
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