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Bishop Auckland club round up
Sat 20 Oct Bishop 1st 63-3 Seaham
After a week without a fixture, Bishop Auckland 1st xv returned to league action against Seaham. There was a return to 1st team action for Andrew Reilly at hooker and changes to the 2nd and back rows, giving the pack some real pace and handling skills.

However Seaham hadn't read the script and they competed very aggressively and for the 1st 20 minutes the game was very tight and scrappy and Bishop were looking to put the off loading and support game into action. Indeed Seaham worked so hard they took a deserved 0-3 lead with a drop goal on 15 minutes. This however did spark a reaction from Bishop and this score was quickly cancelled out after some strong running put Seaham under pressure and from a penalty, Tombling levelled the scores.

The pressure was maintained on Seaham and from a series of penalty offences near their own line, the referee showed a yellow card to a Seaham forward. This was the opportunity that Bishop needed and scrum half Andrew Brabban scored from the scrum with Tomling converting for a 10-3 lead.

Bishop still looked to be misfiring a little but showed some glimpses of real quality with good breaks from Tom Burn at fly half and some very good support running and power from the pack. The half finished with Bishop Auckland leading 13-3. The turnaround at half time was significant. The performance from Bishop Auckland in the second half was one of real quality. There was pace, power and some sublime handling skills. Straight from the kick off Seaham were under pressure and from resulting line out Simon Callan went over near the posts for Tombling to convert 20-3 and now the game was definitely over as a contest.

From this point on the Bishop Auckland really overwhelmed Seaham. Mike Ross replaced Luke Bryan-Victory and he continued his superb form with clear calls, catches and off loads. The offloading game from Bishop Auckland forwards was absolutely lovely to watch and the coaches can be very proud of the skills and decision making they have instilled into the team. Time and again this driving play made yards without a challenge and allowed the backs to score at will. James Greathead will remember the game well, scoring 4 tries, a very good effort indeed.

There were top class performances across the park. The forwards worked hard, and all showed real quality with Ross and Edwards outstanding. Tom Burn has real class and Andrew Brown demonstrated his powerful aggressive running when given the chance. The game finished with a flourish. The ball was passed quickly along the line but with little room to work in Tom Rogers took a step inside and saw Tombling appear on the outside and with a very skilful reverse pass but him into space. This really demonstrated the ability throughout the team and the manner in which Bishop Auckland look to play the game.

The spectators really enjoyed the result and the performance.

Final score 63-3.

John Halladay
U13 Cup Match v Billingham

Sun 21 Oct Bishop U13s 31-31 Billingham (Billingham win on Away Team Rule)

A glorious Autumn morning was in-store for the fans of these two teams as they made their way down to West Mills for this eagerly anticipated 1st Round County Cup clash. Bishop have had a see-saw start to the season with 2 wins and 2 losses and some inconsistent form. Billingham, as their coach put it, had taken a couple of tonkings, but had their full strength team available for the first time this season.

The game began quietly with the action mainly centred in the middle of the pitch as both teams turned over the ball consecutively whilst trying to establish a foothold in the match. On 6 minutes it burst into life when the impressive inside centre from Billingham, bulldozed through the Bishop defence making 25 metres before a last ditch tackle from Toby Dart stopped him in his tracks. The Billingham pack then made further ground, with some lovely interchange passing and the ball came to the No8 Oscar, who broke through a few flailing Bishop tackles to put the first score on the board.(5-0 Billingham)

Bishop fought right back from the kick off when Toby made on one of his trademark darts through the Billingham backs before transferring the ball to Owen Hallett who was hauled down in the corner. The subsequent line-out was won by Billingham who ran the ball out of defence, but a great tackle and counter-attack from 2nd row Robert Aither almost equalised the scores. There wasn't long to wait though, as in the 11th minute from the resulting 5 yard scrum, No 8 Sam Hamilton hammered over the line to bring the scores level.(5-5) The rest of the first half became a bit of a struggle for the Bishop team. The Billingham pack got on top consistently winning the rucks, the Bishop tackles were ineffective and too high to stop the powerful running of the prop forward, 2nd row Lewis, No 8 Oscar and the inside centre. Subsequently Bishop had very little possession with which to attack.

On 19 minutes the inside centre was smashed down by Hallett but he was on the ball again later in the move to go over under the posts for a converted try (12-5 Billingham)

Two minutes later and another Billingham blitz through the Bishop defence past numerous missed tackles gave the visitors their third try (17-5 Billingham) Bishop woke from their lethargy to a degree, when Aither had another good run but once more the ball was lost forward and Billingham attacked again.

On the half hour mark, the Billingham fly half, Luke, made a great break through the Bishop defence and passed out of the tackle to the Inside Centre -this time he was stopped by the Bishop defence - but Lewis the Big 2nd Row drove over the line for the 4th Billingham try. (24-5 Billingham)

Things were looking pretty bleak for Bishop at this point and it was to get worse when No 8 Hamilton was sent to the sin- in when the referee took exception to the amount of high tackles being made by the home team.

HALF TIME Bishop 5 Billingham 24

I can't imagine what the Bishop coach said at half time -my guess is he was hoping for the cavalry to ride over the viaduct and chase away the Billingham marauders . Instead he opted for his own reinforcements and sent on Houston, Summerbell and Redfearn, hoping they could reverse the team's fortunes

Things hardly improved after 3 minutes of the 2nd half when following more missed tackles Billingham scored their 5th try of the match right under the posts.(Bishop 5 -Billingham 31)

Now sometimes in matches, the most unexpected things happen, the game seemed over, Bishop had lost their confidence as well as one of their players, they weren't tackling well and Billingham were ruling the roost. Did Billingham relax thinking the job was done, did they run out of gas or did Bishop find something that was missing? Whatever it was, something stirred in the Bishop team and an amazing comeback was on.

It all started when 25 minutes were left with a tremendous run from full back Toby who made a break from inside his own half and tore his way down the touchline before tumbling over for the try. From a difficult angle and with Sam still off the field he kicked an unlikely conversion. (Bishop 12-Billingham 31)

Suddenly, the Bishop players seemed to grow a few inches -the crowd had got their voices back. Billingham weren't going away but the Bishop tackling was now lower and more aggressive, allowing the ball to be won back more often and possession became Bishops friend for the first time in the match.

Summerbell , the half time sub, made his tackles count and this seemed to have a positive effect on the other players and Matt Brunskill put several Billingham men on their back. After 15 minutes of the second period the ball was fed to debutantes Oliver Thompson and Isaac Armstrong who made good ground and created space for Harry MaC to attack. It looked like he was going to make to the line but he opted to go inside rather than for the corner and was only stopped 5 yards out by a high tackle.

The Bishop forwards drove for the line from the penalty, but were repelled ,however they recycled the ball well and this time through the ball wide. Hamilton fed Toby Dart who drew his man and put Perry Houston over in the corner.(Bishop 17-Billingham 31)

Billingham were now beginning to panic and seemed to forget what had got them their lead. Their supporters spread panic through the players with the ever more desperate shouts onto the pitch to try and stop the comeback. They had a chance when from a penalty the 2nd row drove through some poor aligned defence but was slammed back by Adam Summerbell with a sizzling tackle. The game was amazingly tense now with both teams laying their bodies on the line -somehow after 24 minutes the ball fell into the hands of super sub, Jamie Redfearn, who raced from his own half -just managing to hold off the despairing tap tackle of the Billingham fly half to keep his balance and roll over under the posts. The try was converted by Perry(Bishop 24 - Billingham 31)

The Bishop fans were now in full voice and belief flooded through the entire team. They made their way up the field once more through a Josh Symons surge and with all the forwards attacking the rucks and ball came out into the hands of Sam Hamilton and he howitzered over for a try that was greeted with pumping of fists from players and supporters. Sam kept his nerve to kick the equalising conversion which was far from easy. (Bishop 31- Billingham 31)

Their was only 1 minute left on the clock and time for Billingham to re-energise themselves and attack the Bishop line -however further great tackling efforts by Adam Summerbell and Perry Houston made sure the line was not to be broken again.

The ref blew the whistle to cheers from Bishop following their comeback from the dead -however the rules of the County Cup state that in the event of a draw the away team win is to be victorious -so Congratulations to Billingham and good luck to them in the 2nd Round.

So the Cup will have to wait another year for Bishop, and we will have to wait until the 11th November for the next game, which is the visit of County Champions Durham City. Durham have already beaten Bishop conquerors Westoe this season and will come off the back of some very big victories(oneof which was over Billingham) , so the Bishop boys will need to take the learnings and belief from the improved 2nd half display into that game in order to get a positive result.

FULL TIME Bishop 31 Billingham 31(Billingham go through as Away Team)

Team :Toby Dart, Finley Crossen, Sam Ward, Byron Eales, Eason Ma, Harry McCalvey, Jordan Gallone ,Sam Hamilton, Owen Hallett, James Argument, Dean Belshaw , Robert Aither, Matthew Brunskill , Stuart Sowerby, Daniel Shield

Subs: (All Played) Kailum Grimley ,Anthony, Josh Symons, Adam Summerbell, Isaac Armstrong, Perry Houston, Oliver Thompson

Mike Dart

This week saw the under 11's travel to Durham City to play in a round robin with City and Guisborough.

First game of this glorious Sunday morning and Bishop were up against a whippet- like Durham. From the start the Blues didn't look like their usual fresh, invigorated selves. They looked tired and lacked any fight in them. Despite this and with a struggle for the first 10 minutes the game was played in the middle of the pitch Bishop desperately holding Durham back from the try line. Then for some reason Bishop seemed to change their tactics and Durham soon took advantage of this and scored before a very welcome half time whistle. A "wake up" team talk was delivered from a puzzled coach Peter who was desperately trying to lift their spirits.

The second half got underway with a mistake. A dropped ball after the restart soon had a City player flying through to scoop it up and score and they scored soon again. A team change with subs coming on still didn't have an impact, and following some poor tackles Durham were well and truly on top winning ruck aftyer ruck.Bishop got into a terrible tangle. After falling behind heads were down and nothing the cheering crowds could do or say seemed to lift their play. A heart rending defeat for these young players who usually give their all to the delight of everyone. There was something just not right in this game, a 25 v 0 defeat and a lesson to be learnt.

Following the first game Bishop had something to prove, they are good at what they do when they put their minds to it. It was Guisborough next and from the start the team looked like themselves, enthusiastic. From the sideline the players looked like they had had a miraculous transformation and the team of old was back and the crowd was well and truly behind them.Training session tactics and manoeuvres were now being used by the whole team. Will, Jack and Lucas smashing down players on the move, Luke, Ben, Sophie and James sprinting like there was no tomorrow, Liam, Kiera, Aidan and Jordan holding the back line and it was fantastic to see Bishop playing with smiles on their faces again. Bishop had Guisborough on the defence.

The Blues kept the pressure on with a great team effort and an unselfish offload from Kiera allowed Luke to put the ball down on the try line. From the restart they scored another. The team was running back eager to start, Guisborough did not give up and pulled one back. 10 v 5 at half time.

The coach was ecstatic, the crowds were ecstatic, but more importantly the team were smiling and enjoying the game. The second half 15 minutes seemed like 15 hours, with Guisborough upping their game but Bishop upping theirs twice again. With courage and sheer determination the team continued to maintain their great energetic pace. A try from James then one from newest team member Sophie sealed the victory. 20 v 10.
The team tirelessly train week in week out and their first performance was a shocker to say the least,.but then they turned themselves around for the second game and it was as if it was a new set of players on the pitch, sharper, more alert and all hungry for the ball. It can only be put down to experience !! Well three wins out of four not a bad start to the new season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: BEN THROWER for a good solid attitude in both games.

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