Blaydon 17 Darlington MP 24

With both clubs languishing in the bottom four there was much more at stake then usual in this derby clash, and in a tight encounter Darlington came out on top by pouncing on Blaydon mistakes to score their 2 tries and also by putting over most of their goal-kicks, fly-half Josh Bragman landing a conversion and 4 penalties.

Blaydon on the other hand consistently lost possession at crucial moments, but still scored 3 tries though the forwards, and on the day managed only 1 conversion and no penalties, even a change of kicker having no good effect.

Tom Small made a scintillating early break for Blaydon but ran out of support, and then the pack drove it half the length of the pitch in a tremendous show of power but all to no avail as it was the visitors who opened the scoring.  A good spell of pressure took them into the home 22 and when the ball was chipped over the try line it looked to be well covered until the bounce took it away from the defence for Darlington scum-half Maia Gibbs to gratefully touch down.

On 26 minutes at the other end Robbie Kalbraier charged into the 22 to set up good ball for the rest of the pack who drove under the posts for hooker Matt Thompson to grab the try, Brett Connon’s conversion making it 7-5.

That was almost it for first half scoring but on 40+3 minutes Darlington centres Ben Frankland and Chris Auld broke from half-way only to be stopped short, Blaydon’s Gavin Jones was yellow carded and Bragman’s penalty with the last kick of the half put the visitors 8-7 in front at the break.

Darlington’s second try came out of the blue with Blaydon pressing the line only to drop the ball allowing winger Joel Gill to pick up and set off from one 22 to the other and full-back James Barnard in support touched down. Bragman added the conversion and then a penalty but from another penalty to the corner Andrew Archibald pulled back 5 points to make it 12-18 and everything to play for.

Two more Bragman penalties put the result beyond doubt however and it was left to Thompson with a second try from a terrific rolling maul to secure a losing bonus point.


John Brennan