Rock run riot in Houghton
By Gavin Donnelly
The difference in class was obvious, Rock warming up as the home side were arriving, and on the pitch, the home side taken apart by some scintillating running rugby, attacking from breakdowns all over the pitch.
League Champion coaches Cunningham and Hamilton have used over 40 players this season, and today’s squad reflected the strength in depth that Rock possesses currently, a different team from last week but one that was able to run tries from all places on the pitch, and inflict damage on the home side who tried hard but were never at the races.
Dawson, Hall, Pentland, Hayton, Reid, Bradley, Harrison, Versatile, started in the pack, Leach, Hansen, Ramage, Johnstone, OSullivan, Straker, Fenwick completed the team, with the well known biscuit and cigarette manufacturers Bowman and Butler, alongside Jack Bland making his 1st XV debut, started on the bench.
After 4 minutes the first try came with the trademark Rock pack rumbling forward Pentland emerging with the ball, Tom Reid, all arms and legs then broke through to increase the lead after the home side had pulled back the score with their 1st try. Another forward, the mercurial Harrison crossed the whitewash, meaning all the tries had even scored by forwards. Soon rectified when flying winger Straker smashed over, converted by Johnstone who had finally found his kicking boots. Dan OSullivan made sure of the bonus point when he finished off a lovely move, converted by Johnstone, before Ramage scored the 1st of his tries leaving carnage pitchside going under the posts to make it a simple kick for Johnstone.
At the change over the bench was introduced and on came Ben Butler for his 1st match of the season, alongside Liam Bowman, and young Jack Bland, also making his league debut after some fine performances for the Vikings this season.
Going up the hill, Rock broke loose, the home team visibly wilting under the pressure of the Cardinal and Gold lines. Butler getting his first first team try of the season, before Jamie Fenwick, outstanding today, finished off another flowing move.
Ramage got his second, converted by Johnstone, before Versatile Josh Donnelly, recently returned from working in the UAE, burst through the defence to finish another fine Rock move, converted by Johnstone from under the posts.
At this stage some of the Rock play was sublime, great running lines, firm and resolute defence, Jamie Fenwick catching anything thrown at him by Houghton and returning it with interest. Alex Hayton, running and passing like an inside centre finished a move, Ramage with 2 more, before Peg Pentland sneaked his 2nd. Finally Jack Bland made up for an earlier slip, scoring his debut league try running a great line, which has become known in the Vikings as the ” Blandy” line. All converted by Johnstone to take the score to 99 12, the lads disappointed that they didn’t break the 100 mark.
After the match the team were presented with the DN2 league winners trophy in front of the loyal Rock Ultras, throughly deserved with a fantastic season fast coming to a close.
This team was the same team that started in DN2 almost 2 seasons ago, yet they are unrecognisable from those players, so a huge testament to the coaching abilities of Darren Cunningham and Craig Hamilton, we thank them for their efforts.
Next weekend is the final match of the season when we entertain an inform Ashington, who would like nothing better than to pee on our parade, so no let up lads, we need to finish this season with a 100% record, reward for all the hard work and effort will come after the match.
No slip ups and training as usual on Tuesday and Thursday.
Remember the harder you work the luckier you get, #traintogtherwintogether.
See you at Hillheads next weekend