The Perfect Season
By Gavin Donnelly
Rock complete the season with the perfect record, against the team who last had a perfect record when they gained promotion seasons ago.
Ashington were the last visitors to Hillheads in DN2 this season, and they returned home with what every visiting team has left Fortress Hillheads this season, nowt. They came on a run of good form, and trying to protect their years old record of 100% wins in a promotion season, but Rocks superior fitness prevailed and we finished the season in style.
Rock have been able to call on 44 players this season, coaches Darren Cunningham and Craig Hamilton have in instilled a winning belief in the minds of the players who have all bought in to the coaches philosophy, these same players from last season are totally different people this, Know how to close out games, and how to finish off opponents. Youngsters from colts have been blooded, oldsters returning and enjoying their rugby, the Rock Ultras being treated to some spectacular flowing rugby in a season that will live in the memory for many years. Milestones have been passed, points amassed, tries scored, points conceded, all new Rockcliff records, and today recorded by the Radio Newcastle rugby correspondent with post match interviews.
Rock fielded Bowman, Pentland, Dawson, Hayton, Reid, Bradley, Harrison, Cotton, in the pack, Captain Leach, Hansen, Webster, Johnstone, Ramage, Fenwick, Rapallo completing the team, with Hall, Hamilton C, and Straker starting from the bench.
Ashington bristled with intent from the kick off, with their large pack fully committed in the early exchanges. Rockcliff gradually began to assume control, and worked the ball upfield into the visitors twenty two metre zone. From a multiphase move, the ball was worked from the left across field to the right wing and then back again, eventually freeing up Jamie Fenwick to score in the left corner. Rhys Johnstone added the conversion for 7 0.
Five minutes later, a similar move saw Harry Ramage power over for his 27th try of the season, again converted by Johnstone, and Rockcliff were 14 0 up with fifteen minutes gone.
Ashington were still competing fiercely, and almost got on the scoreboard when their winger intercepted a wayward pass on the half way line, and only a great piece of cover work from Tom Reid stopped a certain score. Rockcliff recovered their composure, and again worked the ball upfield. A scintillating break from Ryan Rapallo had the Ashington defence back pedaling, and from the broken play, Dale Harrison was on hand for score Rockcliff's third try of the match. Again the visitors battled back, and with the home defence scrambling to keep them at bay, they forced a penalty on the Rockcliff twenty two line, but were unable to make the advantage pay.
The sides changed ends with Rocklciff leading 19 0, but Ashington were first on the scoreboard in the second half. Maintaining the spell of pressure they'd enjoyed at the end of the first half, they forced Rockcliff back, and eventually Brian Merryweather picked up from the base of a ruck and sniped through for an unconverted score.
Seven minutes later, Henry Cotton got Rockcliff back on target when he cut through to score under the posts, after a series of forward drives created a gap in Ashingtons rearguard. Johnstone added the extras for 26 5, and then three minutes later slotted home a penalty to extend Rockcliff's advantage.
Ashington came back strongly, and when centre Josh Weeks, a threat throughout the match, broke through several tackles he created the space for their full back Owen Jarvis to race through to score under the posts, converted by Gareth Newman with fifteen minutes left, but two late tries from Dan Leach and Tom Reid, both converted by Johnstone mean that Rockcliff has the final say, and they closed the game out at 43 12.
season over, job done.
Next season new pastures, new objectives, same commitment from all at Rock.
The regular followers have really enjoyed this season, we thank the the team and all involved.
Enjoy your break, I’m sure that our fantastic coaches will be thinking of some painful activities for you all.
Till next season chums, I’m already over excited !!!