Newton Aycliffe 39, Seghill 13
Newton Aycliffe 1st XV played only their second match at home, beating Seghill last weekend.
Given Seghill’s reputation for hard rugby up front supported by a decent backline, expectations were high that this would be a good fixture.
The game was a special one for several reasons, Aycliffe were running out for the first time this season in their new match strips which were made possible by the generous and kind sponsorship of Carmel Safety Training Services, Whitehouse Funeral Service, The Shred Centre and Hoggart Haulage.
Aycliffe were led out by mascots Anna and Abbie Tonkin, daughters of first team flanker Andy. A final special touch for the game was the officiating of Catalan referee, Augustine Stregrau, who was on an exchange programme.
The game began in the physical nature in which it was to continue, with Aycliffe off to a good start. It was the visitors, however, who were to strike first, making the most of an Aycliffe infringement and taking the first three points of the game through a converted penalty.
Aycliffe bounced back almost immediately, and in another scything run, wing James Thacker did what he seems to do every week, and charged over, taking the home side into the lead on fourteen minutes.
The period of play that followed saw both teams struggle for the ascendency, and whilst Seghill applied pressure in the scrummage due to a somewhat larger pack, Aycliffe dictated the pace in open play.
The game oscillated between the twenty twos, with multiple penalties resulting in a somewhat stilted game. This was broken as Aycliffe got quick ball from a lineout to the backs, who played wide and fast, sending right wing Luke Crossen over the line, a try which was converted by Skipper Alex Lineton.
Half time score Newton Aycliffe 1st XV 12 – 3 Seghill.
The second half saw Aycliffe return to the field with an unchanged fifteen, but a changed attitude. This attitude was demonstrated by openside Andy Tonkin making his day complete as he spotted a gap in a pressured Seghill defence to dance over under the sticks.
Aycliffe continued to pin Seghill back into their own half through quick picks and hard carries. This intense phase of play was stopped as Captain Lineton was deemed to have elbowed rather than handed off a loudly complaining Seghill defender, who influenced the referee, and managed to force a penalty.
Lineton shortly made good on his misdemeanour by slotting a penalty to break Aycliffe into the twenties. Straight from the restart Aycliffe were back into the Seghill half, with powerful runs from deep by loose forwards Wiper and Littlefair proving too much for the defenders, whose beleaguered line was no match for the cutting lines of Thacker, who crossed again on fifty-two minutes.
A short period followed in which Seghill kept ball in hand, but were no match for the Aycliffe defence, and had to take three points from the twenty two following an Aycliffe infringement at the ruck. Again Aycliffe were back on the offensive, forging forward through the full fifteen and sending versatile eight Andy Littlefair over to take Aycliffe out of sight, the try was converted by replacement ten and Army representative player James Cocks.
The following phase of play saw prop forward Dan Peck penalised for deciding to get up and keep running once tackled, he then made a nuisance of himself to the Seghill player who tried to take a quick penalty, which resulted in a scuffle from which a flying leg struck Spanish referee Augustin, who was forced from the field. Luckily Referee at large John Denham was visiting the club with Durham RFU Chairman and was able to take on the mantle and see the game through to the end.
Despite this upset, Aycliffe were able to run another try in, with winger Luke Crossen making it two for both wings and taking Aycliffe to thirty-nine.
All Aycliffe needed to do was see out the remaining time, but unfortunately, a loose pass was intercepted by a Seghill player, who ran in from twenty out, which was converted just before the end of play.
The game finished with a total of six tries run in by Aycliffe with the backs taking four to the forward two. Tries came from James Thacker (2), Luke Crossen (2), Any Tonkin and Andy Littlefair. Two of the tries were converted by Alex Lineton and one by James Cocks.