Banana skin averted, Rock continue to roll
By Gavin Donnelly
After a short break for festivities, happy new year to all, the league started the New Year with Rock still in pole position after a ruthlessly efficient performance against a combative Sedgefield.
Coaches Darren Cunningham and Craig Hamilton welcomed the travelling Rock Ultras at Sedgefield with news that the team to play was almost at full strength for a fixture that many considered could go the way of the home team if Rock showed any complacency on the pitch.
Starting with Bowman, Hall, Pentland, Hamilton C, Hayton, Harrison Dean, Reid, and Hamilton R in the pack, Neasham, Hansen, Harrison Dale, Webster, OSullivan, Ramage, and Rapillo completed the starting XV. On the bench, Moore, Thomson, and for the first time in 2 years, Donnelly, returned from the East for a one off appearance.
Rock started strongly and after 2 minutes Bowman had trundled across for his trademark try, this being a small square pitch, sloping on 4 sides from an apex in the north west corner, our forwards found it tough going against the home side, but had soon worked out how to get the upper hand and exerted all sorts of pressure on the opposition forwards. Try 2 followed for the Cardinal and Golds as Pentland crossed in almost identical fashion as try one, converted by young Hansen whose watching parents kept the medication near, the lad suffering from the mother of colds ! 4 minutes before the break Pentland crashed over the whitewash in a similar fashion to the previous tries, again converted by Hanson who had brought his kicking boots with him, before Ramage smashed over after leaving a trail of destruction.
Unfortunately just before that Webster had to leave the field with a nasty gash to his head, replaced by the Versatile Donnelly.
Halftime, bonus point secure, Rock led by 24 unanswered points
The 2nd half started as much as the 1st had with Bowman crossing the try line, converted by the sick one, before coach Cunningham wrought in the changes in the pack bringing on Moore and Thomson, resting Hamilton and Hall.
Another forward move saw Alex Hayton striding away , getting caught, recycling the ball and then going over for a deserved try. Converted by Hansen with the best tick of the day from out wide.
Thomson then trundled over, converted by Hansen, to complete the Rock scoring for the day.
Sedgefield then stated a fight back, Hayton was binned for an off ball tackle, we think, and Harrison Dale was binned after a round of handbags on the far side, the pitch being so contoured the majority of Rock fans could only see heads moving about in a aggravated fashion.
Sedge went on to score 2 well taken tries, Donnelly excited the crowd when he made scintillating break in an effort to get the backs on the scoresheet, but with only a defender to beat popped up the ball for his teammate who happened to be playing for the opposition, opportunity gone. Meanwhile on the sidelines, our well respected and honest touchjuge Noel, inadvertently wiped out a number of spectators who had strayed too close to the white line. I watched as 3 of the Rock old farts collapsed and struggled to get standing again, so a lesson learnt, stay well clear of the line as our Noel is running it, he only follows to ball and if as in this case there’s a break, he’s off !!
If only I had recorded it !!
Sedgefield voted Tom Reid as man of the match, well deserved as he had one of his best matches in the Rock shirt
3 home matches now for Rock, training as usual so make sure you attend, we need this part of the season to be as successful as the last year, the harder you work, the luckier you get.