Luctonians 31 Blaydon 17

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.

John Brennan