Rock march on
By Gavin Donnelly
Darlington were the latest visitors to fortress Hillheads, and like all teams before them this season succumbed to a display of power and clinical finishing by the Cardinal and Gold wrecking machine.
Coach Cunningham and his partner Hamilton C have found themselves in the pleasant position of having nearly all the 1st XV squad available and fit for the visit of Darlington for this DN2 fixture, remembering that our visitors had given us a tough game in the reverse game at their venue at the beginning of the season.
Selecting Pentland Hall and Moore in the front row, Hamilton C, Hayton, Reid, Cotton, and Hamilton R completed the pack. David Neasham kept his position at 9 leaving captain Leach on the bench, Webster at 10, Ramage Johnstone OSullivan Harrison and Rapillo completed the starting XV with Bowman and birthday boy Michael Hanson, who can now legally drink, joining captain Leach on the bench.
Things started well for Rock, and within 2 minutes Ramage scored his trademark try leaving a trail og destruction behind him as he powered over the whitewash to score almost under the posts for Johnstone to covert. Darlington came storming back, their 9 sniping, manipulating and manoeuvring his big pack into position and they scored a good try to reduce the deficit, unconverted.
This spurred the Cardinal and gold into a response and from a catch a drive Webster released OSullivan with a supreme pass and he crashed through from inside the halfway line with a great angle to score a scintillating try, converted by Johnstone
The forwards ten got on the scoresheet when Pentland emerged from the bottom of the pack with the ball from a pushover try, converted by Johnstone.
Hurt by this Darlo came back and again registered on the score sheet 21 10 and their play suggested that they could go on and score more, but alas for them that was their scoring over for the day as the Rock defence tightened with a red line blocking all intended moves into the home territory.
Rapillo was replaced by Leach as he turned an ankle and went off as a precaution, Leach going to his scrum half role, Young Neasham doing a Versatile and going to fullback. If the opposition thought that this might disrupt the Northumbrians they were well off the mark as Henry Cotton ran in try 4 for the bonus point, converted by Johnstone. Cotton in his first game of 2019 had prepared well by going out the night before to Bongo Bingo and consuming considerable amount of high energy drinks, made apparent as he made a great break and then tripped himself up with the tryline calling, left flapping like a seal out of water as play continued around him.
Johnstone then had a try before halftime leaving the score 33 10 at the interval.
The 2nd half was one way traffic as Rock turned on the power, fair play to Darlo they kept plugging away, but like many teams this season they found a new fit version of Rock in front of them and they just kept on coming.
A hatrick of tries for Tom Reid, the Bowman speciality try, a penalty try and binning for intentional collapsing, another yellow for a high tackle galvanised the visitors in playing some of their best rugby, but further tries for Hamilton C, a cameo from Moore, conversions fro Rhys Johnstone meant the scoring stopped at 78 10. As the Darlo captain said in the bar after it was a difficult job picking a man of the match as there was no week link from 1 to 18, but they went for the flapping seal Henry, who also got the dick of the day alongside Peg, who took a tap penalty, wallowed 3 metres, fell on his derriere and gave the ball to a burly Darlo prop. Class ! Rock voted for the live wire 9, a well deserved pint for the young man. Micheal Hanson celebrated his birthday with his first legal drink in front of his well again parents, but it did take him 5 minutes to finish it.
Next week another home match for Rockcliff when Bishop Auckland are the visitors, another tough fixture so no time for complacency.
Training as per, work hard, it brings you luck.