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Bishop Auckland club round up
The first XV maintained their status among the top teams in the league with a hard-fought victory over an industrious North Shields. Bishops habit of starting slowly seemed to have subsided against a Barnard Castle last week, but returned with a vengeance as Shields took control early leaving Bishop Auckland shell-shocked. The Tynesiders large pack tested Bishops from the off, making powerful runs at the fringes with their firecracker scrum half taking the opportunity to work offloads and challenge with darting runs. It was Shields who drew first blood, when an uncharacteristic defensive error by HOLE allowed an overlap with the winger beating TOMBLING for pace to score. TOMBLING notched a penalty before Shields again crossed the line. This time a string of missed tackles at the touchline allowed Shields to score, and captain Danny ROSS leading a readdress of his charges under the posts.

The words were effective as Bishop came out fighting and scored one of the more creative tries this season. From deep in their half, Mike ROSS and BEACH combined to take the play into Shields territory. With the wind in their sails, Bishops began sitting their opponents down, dominating contact and offloading in the tackle. At the edge of the 22m line, back row Ratu NAREKI broke a tackle and rather than stepping out of contact, bulldozed the fullback and broke free to score a try, duly converted by TOMBLING.

The introduction of Simon CALLAN as an interchange just before the half added some further momentum to the line. By now scrum-half Andrew BRABBAN had the measure of the opponent's back row and exploited the gaps with breaks and offloads to bring Bishops within range again. With Shields on the back foot, Auckland's back ran riot in the closing stages, dominating the centres for another score. It seems on his current form, there is little answer for the power and aggression of Gwyn EVANS who destroyed the contact area, producing yards after every tackle and attracted defenders in their masses.

Bishops' half time lead was the start point for a much improved second half. Mike ROSS's rich vein of form continued in an almost faultless second half display from the No.8. This week's opponents were a much sterner test in the pack and the introduction of some veteran muscle by Shields put the scrum under some serious pressure, but this was ROSS' opportunity to show he can perform under pressure. His service to BRABBAN was outstanding and even when at times the Auckland pack was outmuscled, ROSS was on hand to provide quick ball. The introduction of Ian STRONG for the injured MARSDEN and some stern words from FLETCHER and Danny ROSS soon had the pack back on form.

The back benefitted greatly from the second wind, wingers BROWN and CASSIDY both featuring regularly with BROWN registering a score and BURN adding the conversion after the replacement of TOMBLING.

FINAL SCORE: North Shields 17 - Bishop Auckland 34

In conclusion, a strong win against a very tough and talented outfit. North Shields had a tough and heavy pack but Brabban's ability to mix things up was decisive. Fantastic performances from Paul Fletcher, Mike Ross, Andrew Brabban and Gwyn Evans were the pick of the bunch. A bonus point win away from home and backs firing make for great entertainment value too.

Auckland's backs will be further strengthened by the return of the outstanding Laurence Oliver and a major coup for the club - with coaches Colwell and Binns securing the services of Tom Rogers from Ampthill and Durham University.

"We are ally happy to get points at Shields, they are a tough and streetwise outfit. adding a few players to the mix now will certainly up the competition to another level. We have all seen what Lance (Oliver) can do and we are pleased to see him return, and Binnsy and I are really excited about Tom Rogers joining us. I worked with him at Durham Uni and he is an incredible player and one of Rugby's nice guys too. I expect him to make a real impact when he lands

Steven Colwell
Bishop Auckland Rugby U15s Win Local Derby.

Barnard Castle 8 Bishop Auckland 52

Bishop U15s travelled away to Barnard Castle on a cold but sunny Sunday morning. The team lined up as follows:

Forwards Jordie Barkus, George Tindle, Will Bowden, Chris Cruddace, Liam O'Brian, Craig Jackson, Nathan Mounter, Connor Witton

Backs Seb Hole, Jack Hamilton, Josh Love, Bradley Wilson Dando, Thomas Kempson, Ben Curran, Ed Stringer Subs: Adam Brunskill, Mathew Sage, Dom Vasey, Mathew Goundry

Fielding a near full strength squad for the first time this season, Bishop enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the first half. Solid rucking throughout enabled the backs to shine, Josh Love going over for the first score after clever hands from Jack Hamilton and Ben Curran. Bishop were 'bossing' the game and only fine cover tackling by the Barnie defence thwarted Edd Stringer following a full 60 metre sprint from his own 22. The forwards were also keen to get on the score sheet. A well-developed ruck in the opposition half is picked up by George Tindle who makes no mistake from 10 yards out. Midway through the half another fine move is finished off by Love after a clever scissor move by Hamilton and Bradley Wilson Dando. Some ill-discipline from Bishop leads to a Barnie penalty which is leisurely stroked over. The restart gifts a scrum to Barnie who move the ball well (aided and abetted by some weak tackling) and Barnie's only try of the match is awarded. The half is brought to a close with Hamilton scoring after his own hoof through the home defence is well chased down.

Half Time: Barnard Castle 8 Bishop Auckland 26

The luxury of three substitutions are made at half time with Brunskill, Vasey and Sage coming on. The game soon assumes the pattern of the first half with Love quickly going over for his hat-trick after Hole, Witton and Cruddace had lent their hand in getting the ball out. Bishop then went through a short phase of poor play as they contrived to forget the basics and chuck the ball away at every opportunity? A quick throw in, absorbed into the forwards is rucked out by Sage and Barkus, fed to Brunskill through the half backs and a score is the reward. A further two tries are added by Wilson Dando and Stringer respectively. The first a fine individual piece of skill, the latter score followed good interplay between the forwards and backs.

Full Time: Barnard Castle 8 Bishop Auckland 52

Overall a solid performance from Bishop, punctuated by a short spell of lack in concentration. Again all credit to Barnard Castle who never rolled over and kept trying to the bitter end. The understanding between the forwards and backs is developing well, and the pace exhibited by several players will stand us in good stead when we progress through the season. An eagerly awaited first home fixture of the season awaits us next Sunday. All are warmly invited to training on Wednesday evening.

MOTM Forwards: Nathan Mounter
MOTM Backs: Josh Love

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