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Bishop Auckland win top of the table clash
A top of the table clash between the 2 best sides in the division was eagerly anticipated and despite the recent “indifferent” weather, the game was on.
The weather was grey and the pitch was sticky and both teams came into the game with terrific records and the spectators expected an entertaining match. They were not disappointed.

This was a match of real intensity with both sides giving their all physically. There were some big tackles and a real power struggle at the breakdown throughout the game.

Redcar kicked off and immediately put Bishop Auckland under pressure and maintained this pressure for long periods in the 1st half. With the usual no.8 playing at centre, Redcar set out to play a tight hard running game close to the breakdown and their physicality was impressive and forced a couple of penalties to take a 0-6 lead. Bishop Auckland couldn’t get any phases going due to the aggressive and physical Redcar forward play and they weren’t help when flanker Gareth Edwards had to retire with illness. With ill directed kicking Bishop Auckland contributed to their own difficulties but eventually broke out to gain a kickable penalty for Tombling and went in at half time 3-6 down.

The second half started with a bang! Bishop Auckland pressured early and with all the forwards engaged in a “maul” Ratu Nareki appeared to break away to be pulled back as the referee had to break up a melee between the forwards. The referee was very clear and decisive, giving the Redcar no.4 a straight red card and yellow cards to a forward from each team. This was a game of real intensity. From the resulting penalty Tombling drew Bishop Auckland level.

With the conditions being difficult and Redcar now with 13 players, the game became scrappy with little flowing rugby and Bishop Auckland’s quick wingers got very little ball. To their credit, Redcar really dug in and fought very hard and increased their physicality again. This was a real dog fight up the middle and Bishop Auckland lost fly half Tom Burn to a serious facial injury. But the defensive qualities of Bishop Auckland stood out and the pressure was starting to tell on Redcar as they conceded penalties and began to talk back to the referee who was now marching them back for this indiscipline. Tombling taking advantage to extend Bishop Auckland’s lead to 12-6 midway through the half. Some indiscipline from Bishop Auckland saw Williams yellow carded and both teams now had 14 men for a time. However, this seemed to lift the other forwards and Bishop Auckland again found renewed energy and went further ahead from Tombling’s boot. 15-6.
There was one final act of indiscipline from the Redcar no.8 which saw the referee hand him a 2nd yellow and with that a red card.

A battling display from Bishop Auckland against a very good Redcar side which fought very hard and brought a real hard edge to the game. The tactics in the second half of moving the Redcar full back around and putting pressure on at the breakdown paid dividends and the scores came from this pressure. There were some very good performances around the field. Simon Callan was very good at lineout and aggressive around the breakdown. The other forwards grafted really hard and had the Redcar scrum going backwards. John Sayers returned to 1st team duty with a very solid display and Tim Tombling kicked his goals and moved the Redcar defence around.

The final score 15-6 to Bishop Auckland. All in all, a terrific game to watch. Although we will see games of more flowing rugby, this was an intense physical contest with both teams up for the contest. This was a game which raised the winter temperature and a great game to win against your closest rivals.

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