Top of the table clash at Hillheads
By Gavin Donnelly
Ryton visit Rockcliff and clinch the DN2 title with a narrow win in a hard fought encounter.
Recent injuries have come at the wrong time for Rockcliff, so young coach Jack Lambert was again forced into changes this weekend, leaving his options limited for such an important game.
Matthew Bradley, Kai Downey-Stevenson, Neil Mather, Stu Thomson, Alex Meadows, Chris Keen, Neil Thornton, and Liam Bowman, started in the pack. Lewis Partis, Bryan Stewart, Steven Scott, Josh Donnelly, Andrew Webster, Tom Pike, and Simon Tindall, stared the game with Douglas Hall, Dan Leach, and Tomma Dawson warming the bench.
Ryton brought a large contingent of followers for this game, a match that would see them promoted as Champions if they won.
The ground was looking in great condition, Head Groundsman Dave Millar and his team had the ground flat and well mown, the white line in the centre was particulary striking, and thanks should be given to the groundstaff for their stirling work.
Kicking down the slope Ryton started strongly, Rockcliff tackling like dervishes, but the momentum was with the visitors. They ran in 2 tries, 1 converted and a penalty, to lead 15 nil at halftime.
The big problem for Rock thou was an injury to playmaker Bryan Stewart who was accidentaly injured in the 12 minite and was unable to carry on. This hit Rock hard, game plan and personnel change at a critical time, and Ryton capitalised on the Rock disruption. Bryan is out for the rest of the season, may even plan his retirement, if it does then we wish him well and thank him for his contribution to the club and hope we see him back in the future in another capacity.
In the 2nd half Rock applied the pressure, Scott scoring his trademark try, and captain Webster knocking over a penalty. Chances were missed that would have swung the game in Rocks favour, but no complaints thats the nature of this great game. We have played Ryton twice, on both occasions they have won the 1st half, and us scoring all our points to win the 2nd half, just not enough to break down an impressive outfit. Ryton go up as well deserved champions of DN2, the best team we have seen at Hillheads in a number of seasons.
Next week Rock visit Hartlepool to get our promotion ambitions back on track, we hope to have some of our walking wounded patched up and reporting for duty.
Training Tuesday and Thursday please, we have not come all this way not to succeed, so please be there this week.