Clash of the Titans
By Gavin Donnelly
2 of the leagues contenders for promotion waged war on a typical Northumbrian spring day, cold and lashing rain, and Rock surprised many by coming out on top in a tough well fought encounter.
After last weeks fixture at Whitby, losing a match played in Artic conditions, Rock travelled to Ryton with the seasons aim of promotion on the line. Ryton have been in fine recent form, only losing, like us, to a Whitby side that are coming quick along the rails, so it was a game Rock could not lose, and the lads delivered.
Getting the side back to full strength was the aim of coaches Nardini and Chandler, and there was an intensity amongst the players during the warm up, listening intently the the wise words of wisdom flowing from the coaches on how to combat this big Ryton unit.
True to form the heavens opened at kick off, Simon Ayre back at 10 launching the ball into the Ryton half, from there Rock took camp and the opposition rarely ventured into Rock territory. The large Rock following could sense our young tyros were up for this one, and gave encouragement from the sidelines. It seemed that at times Rock were not only playing the Ryton XV but also the man in the middle, who confounded spectators from both sides with some dubious decisions nearly all in favour of the home side.
First blood went to Rock when Simon Ayre, who was having a great day with the boot, slotted home a penalty after the constant infringing fron the Ryton flanker, 0 3 to the Cardinal and golds.
It was then that Ryton got a break, scoring a try when the ball hit a rampaging 4 who took the lucky break and scampered over the whitewash for a try. Some of us remembered the last time we played at Ryton many years ago, Brian, Diesel, Josh, Webby, Drew, when the same guy scored in the exact same manner to dent our promotion hopes then, nerves started to flow in the Rock faithful, especially Spelk and yours truly, but this lot buckled down and got on with the game, determined not to let this setback put them off their stride.
Following what seemed to be a lost cause Makka chased a loose ball with the Ryton fullback and winger to get there first to touch down in the red zone. Try time and Rock took a 10 5 lead into half time. Well done Mr McCabe for a great effort and following the play. It showed the determination in the Rock team.
Solid defence was called for and a red line formed across the park, some truly magnificent tackles put in to stem the opposition gave Rock confidence that this was going to be our day. One tackle from Drew Hayton stands out, how the lad got up is a mystery to all, but so far it has to be the tackle of the season from one of our longest serving players. In fact the line held with everyone putting bodies on the line, one player described events as a war, with the red line standing together repelling all who would want to pass.
With only 5 minutes left on the clock Rock stormed down the pitch, the forwards battering throu the opposition, switching play this way and that to the backs, who in turn came back to the big lads, and eventually Greg Dixon, again outstanding, went over for the killer try. The Rock followers celebrated in style, but there was still time for the opposition to respond, so back we went. With the last play of the match Ryton struck, but it was too late, we returned to the coast riding the shield of victory, promotion dream still on.
Simon Ayre was voted most valuable player by the opposition, it could have been anyone in Rock colours for me.
A great game to watch, played by 2 teams determined to win but in the right spirit.
Next week we play Acklam, a repeat performance is required, we also need a pitch to play on. Stay tuned for further news.
Remember training Tuesday and Thursday, the harder you work the luckier you get.
Keep this run up lads, Whitby are on our tales, it would seem that they are now serious rivals in promotion.