Blaydon 14, Billingham 18

Blaydon  14   Billingham  18
There was much at stake in this clash with Billingham, the sides being separated by just 2 points in 2nd and 3rd positions in the league, and going into the last 10 minutes of normal time Blaydon were encamped on the visitors line.
Needing a try to regain the lead they attacked and attacked again and again without finding a chink in the Billingham defence and when they were awarded a 5 metre scrum had the ignominy of being pushed off their own ball.
And that in a nutshell was the story of the game. Billingham excelled in retaining possession, took their chances when they came along, did not spill ball and did not concede many penalties – all in clear contrast to the home side.
It was against the run of play when Blaydon took a 12th minute lead from a Dan Marshall break with James Cooney putting Jack Appleton over in the corner, Jamie Guy converting. Billingham fly-half Evans pulled back 3 points with a penalty and his side were constantly on the front foot only for Marshall to intercept on his own 22 to race upfield for another Blaydon score.
Despite the reversals Billingham continued to press and with the last action of the half were rewarded with a try from right wing Hopley to make it 14-3 at the break.
The second period proved to be totally unproductive for Blaydon whilst the visitors were ever dangerous. On 45 minutes they were held up over the line but retained possession from the scrum to move it with trade-mark slick passing to the far corner where full-back Husband finished off.
Evans failed with the conversion but 5 minutes later their No8 Dixon broke from a scrum to storm upfield and set up more passing from which Kirby touched down the winning try.
Blaydon then had that great opportunity to grab victory from the jaws of defeat, and typically on the day coughed up possession 3 times in quick succession in the closing stages leaving the visitors to take the honours which they richly deserved.
John Brennan