Blaydon Bricks 13 Bishop Auckland 21
A cold, wintery and drizzling day welcomed Blaydon’s visitors – Bishop Auckland – who made the trip up the A1. Saturday October, 2nd, 3pm kick-off Crowtrees.
With two wins on the bounce, coming against South Shields and Winlaton from the previous week, the Bricks were quietly confident going into this contest.
Blaydon had strength in numbers with a full bench despite missing a couple of key players, notably Joel Alexander.
Lee Guest, 35, inside centre and Blaydon’s Captain- was asked if his team would miss Alexander’s services. Would it be like Barcelona without Messi, Argentina without Maradona?
Guest didn’t make a retort only giving a wry smile – but you could see in his eyes how he really felt about Alexander.
FAST START FOR BRICKS
Blaydon came flying out of the blocks first after 3 mins. Mark Todd, 27, second row, looked more like a wide receiver in the Gerry Rice mould ; performing aerial acrobatics to keep the ball in play before quickly recirculating.
James Murray,29, Blaydon’s talented ten, then went on a dazzling trade mark run, only to be stopped five-yards out, when Damien Shaw, 35, was hit by a rocket splitting tackle in two and spilling the ball forwards, knocked on.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A DEE
Great Auckland defence – everything doesn’t start with a D – but it should -but that it would make it “Deverything” which is not a word – kept the Bricks at bay, after a fantastic rolling maul down the right.
In fact, it took a full eight minutes, before Auckland crossed the half-way line, as Blaydon dominated the opening exchanges.
DAGLISH STANDS TALL
Paul Daglish, 34, Blaydon number eight, went on the first of many superb runs, handing off for fun but the Auckland D stood firm.
Some great D from Blaydon’s diminutive right-winger Dingley, 43, kept Auckland out after a kick over the top; Dingley propelling his legs up-to top speed to kick the ball dead to keep out the visitors.
Murray, 29,then from the resulting drop out after the ball rebounded back , intelligently kicked into space over the top. In a race against a young Auckland back, with nothing then between the ball and the try line – apart from space to run – glory beckoned.
However, the younger defender [and fresh out of the academy] had the legs, but Murray realised this, using his brain to hold back and supported by Bricks Captain – and soon to be first time father Guest – did their joint best to win the ball on the floor, but still the Auckland D held firm, like a scene from Rourkes Drift. Surely the Auckland thin blue back line would be breached by the Blaydon fattened and primed red line eventually?
Unfortunately on 20 minutes Blaydon lost their young scrum-half, who appeared to have disc-located his shoulder, exiting the Riverside pitch in considerable pain. His replacement three times his age and half the height – the wiley old Winlaton fox Wharton, 49, who is enjoying a loan spell.
AUCKLAND TAKE FIRST BLOOD
First blood actually went to Auckland, as the Blues on 24 mins found their number 8 going over in the corner, despite a fantastic tackle at pace by Matt Robertson,23, at fullback , he was outnumbered by attackers.
AUCKLANDS KICKING MASTERCLASS
The Auckland try was followed up by a superb conversion from the touch line from the tightest of angles and in driving rain by the Auckland kicker – the oldest player on the pitch at 62. Well I say on the pitch, but he literally came on the pitch to kick like an NFL kicker and then back off to the dug out.
This Auckland silver fox could have made it in grid iron had he born the other side of the pond by the look of it. He would go onto not miss a single kick – all game.
The game then started to flow back and forth , with Guest seemingly defying gravity with airborne tackles.
Bricks tight head prop Chris then smashed through the Auckland D on a pure run of strength, bulldozing like a runaway Tonka toy – all 20 stone of his frame hurtling through their lines – only to be stopped within three-inches of the oppositions try line. Most of you players know and feel how agonisingly close that is – a small failure!
MORE TEE BISHOP
However, the Auckland D finally caved in, when on 34 mins Guest went over directly between the posts after phase after phase of Bricks forward play, to see Blaydon go level at 7 all … well you would have banked on it being 7 all but after a ‘dust up’ over a kicking tee Murray – whom up-to that point had been faultless -fluffed his kicking lines, putting the ball between the posts but unfortunately for the Bricks, below the bar. The Bricks trailing at the end of the second half,5 to 7.
Sadly the Bricks lost one their best players at half time as back-rower Todd retired broken with a shoulder injury.
This was a real shame as Cameron, Richardson, 22, Bricks bright young hooker, had been consistently finding Todd’s 6 feet five inches very useful in the line out, with pin point accurate throws, throws straighter than a Phil Taylor tungsten dart that had singled out the agile number 7.
SECOND HALF – A SECOND SUMMER OF LOVE
As the second-half neatly arrived so did a late Bricks player, as their legendary prop, Italian Mario Summer pulled up. Summer with his cascading mane of hair, a player who plays very much on the edge of brilliance or the bullet- with a disciplinary record which is just that – a record.
Auckland’s discipline was starting to let them down. Could Blaydon capitalise on this poor discipline; off-sides, high tackles and answering back and penalty count mounting by their mistimed high tackle were putting Auckland under pressure.
By the end of the game they would notch up a whopping nine penalties against Blaydon’s meagre two.
However, the first and only time that Blaydon capitalised on Auckland’s poor discipline was when Murray atoned for his earlier conversion failure to kick a penalty -straight on – but still probably a good 35m out. Giving the Bricks the slenderest of leads at 8 to 7. Should they have gone for goal more often?
The lead would sadly though for Bricks fans last two mins as on 55 mins – and in the move of the game – magic play by Aucklands star 18 year old centre – saw him put in a grubber, perfectly placed, destroying our back line for pace on this occasion and he chased through and after to score in the corner.
This saw the return of Aucklands silver fox and specialist kicker, with another incredible conversion to take the lead 14 to 8.
One thing about this Bricks side which no one can deny is spirit. With players Craig Oliver, Robert Pyle, Matt Robertson; you can see that spirit in every position and corner of the pitch.
So when on 61 mins Kieran Sheen 29, came marauding through with his low centre of gravity perfectly timed run, after an equally great tackle breaking run by Blaydon Man of the Match and number 8 Paul Daglish, to score in the left corner it was no surprise.
Sheen finished off the try with total brilliance, side stepping his way to points. A selectors mistake not starting him? A conversion would have seen Blaydon take the lead.
Unfortunately though, despite a good effort, Murray couldn’t convert from out wide. Although he had the distance the wind – which was starting to gust – got hold of the oval, taking it off course leading Blaydon trailing by one.
Blaydon 13 Bishop Auckland 14
Only great Blaydon D kept the visitors out with Dingley making a third try saving defensive last ditch race and toe poke grubber kick into touch.
SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER
On 71 minutes Richardson had to leave the pitch through injury leading to the late arrival of Summer.
Summer certainly did arrive, with pushing & shoving breaking out within two mins over a spat when the opposition did not give the ball back quickly enough following another Auckland penalty, thus denying a quick tap-and-go.
This was followed up by a blistering line ran by Summer after some great work on the ground doing the dirty work nobody sees. He looked like he was heading to score – the only thing stopping him though was he failed to take the ball with him.
With the ball bouncing up into the arms of Auckland’s winger who ran it all the way back to score. This was followed up by the inevitable. A pinpoint conversion from Auckland’s specialist kicker – making it three touchline conversions to seal the victory 21 to 13.
GUESTY LEAVES NO ROOM FOR GUESS WORK
Captain Guest buoyed the team with an inspirational message as his defeated players circled around, locked arms and attitudes at the end of what was a very enjoyable and closely contested game.
He asked his team to reflect on the fact that with only an eight point deficit could his side have made better use of their penalty awards and conversions that they may just have walked away with a W.
But Whatever and Wherever you looked today, everyone was really a Winner as Winter felt like it had arrived today at Crowtrees… and with not a ‘petrol tanker’ in sight – there are not too many of those W’s in the World of Wrugby thankfully – please excuse the ‘cockney rhyming.
- Chris Davidson
- Cameron Richardson (Mario Summer)
- Kevin Lamb
- Liam Beck
- Stephen Kane
- Craig Oliver
- Mark Todd (Rob Pyle)
- Paul Daglish
- Thomas Reay
- James Murray
- Paul Dingley
- Lee Guest
- Peter Davidson (Mark Hopewell)
- Damien Shaw (Kieran Sheen)
- Matt Robertson