WBR 19 Acklam 19
By Gavin Donnelly
Battle royal at neighbours ground, nothing separating them, but will both teams be in the same league next season ?
It was honours even as first played second in Durham and Northumberland Division 2, and a late come back in a hard fought game saw league leaders Acklam maintain their unbeaten record for the season despite Rockcliff denting their 100% record. The game was played at Percy Park, who generously made their facilities available as Rockcliff's pitches were unplayable due to a combination of waterlogging and new pitch installation.
Rockcliff unsettled Acklam in the early exchanges, and they were first on the score board after five minutes when Drew Hayton, the Rockcliff Ultras pin up boy, barreled through to score, converted by Simon Ayre, for 7-0. From the restart the Red and Golds were on the back foot and were pinned back in their twenty two, but stubborn defence and some sloppy handling by Acklam meant it was twenty five minutes before Acklam finally opened their account, spinning the ball down the line to Chris Abraham who touched down, converted by Danny Ashton for 7-7.
The game settled down into midfield but just as Acklam began to gain the upper hand again, Chris McCabe intercepted a wayward pass and ran the ball in from half way, crossing the whitewash and with Ayre again adding the extras, it was 14-7 and so it remained until half time.
Rockcliff came out of the traps first in the second half, and a great move saw Kai Downey surge forward at inside centre, and he timed a perfect pass to send winger Charlie Muzzlewhite away to score in the left hand corner and 19-7. Five minutes later, with Rockcliff still pressing, Ayre was unlucky with two long range penalty efforts. Rockcliff kept up the momentum and after a kick and chase, only desperate Acklam defence managed to hold the ball up and deny a certain try and a try scoring bonus point.
The crowd could see why Acklam have remained undefeated this season, and back they came in wave after wave of attacks, thwarted time after time by outstanding Rock defending.
Acklam then began to gain the upper hand, forcing Rockcliff back and with two tries from Andy Dalton in ten minutes, one converted by Ashton they leveled the score, and a nerve wracking final five minutes ensued. The Red and Golds hung on through, and secured two vital points. The result sees Rockcliff remain in second place, but Whitby are now only one point behind in third place. Both sides now have three games to play, and with Acklam already assured of the step up, promotion from second place is in the balance for Rockcliff and Whitby. Drew Hayton was awarded Mano el matcho, the Ultra pin up boy outstanding and scored a fabulous try. We wish Acklam well, they brought a good following with them, and we hope to renew aquaintence with them next season.
Next week Rockcliff are at home to Darlington, rumour has it that home could be North Shields ground for that game, as it is unlikely that our ground will be anywhere near ready. So it is important that we have a good turnout for training to ensure we cross the line in second position to ensure a great end to a fantastic season, please make an effort to attend Thursday training.
3 games left, make sure there are no slip ups #UTR