By JUST H JOHNSON
- one step away
Northallerton first team continued their pursuit of a May trip to Twickenham, with a 29-10 victory over Aspull RFC at Brompton Lodge in the quarter final of the National Cup.
Prior to the game, the club was honoured with the presence of Max Willoughby in the club bar for the first time in 20 years without his wife’s knowledge or permission. Needless to say Max never bought a round.
Back to the fixture, Aspull were fresh off celebrating winning their league, with 17/17 victories and scoring over 900 points in a remarkable season.
Undeterred at this, North set about the visitors straight from the first whistle hoping the visitors hadn’t got the long journey over the Pennines out of their system.
With only six minutes on the clock, Aspull had a scrum on their own five yard line and were under immense pressure from the North pack. Being pushed backwards, the Aspull number eight was forced to pick the ball up but was immediately tackled (not high) by Harry Laking who dislodged the ball in the process. Iain Swall was the first to react dropping on the ball over the try line. German Ashley Von Rio added the conversion from a difficult angle in a very strong swirling wind.
Ten minutes later North had a lineout ten yards out from the Aspull line. From the attempted catch and drive, the visitors illegally pulled the maul down but the referee played advantage for Phil Swall to amble over for a try under the posts. Von Rio again adding the conversion.
Straight from the restart Herman, sorry Von Rio, collected the ball in midfield and made a forty metre break before off loading for the supporting Sam Taylor to score a unconverted try in the corner.
Aspull then began to put some good rugby together and forced North into giving away a mounting penalty count. After thirty minutes the visitors took advantage of a straight forward penalty in front of the posts. Five minutes later a chip over the top from the Aspull fly half was collected in the air by their 5ft 3inch winger who towered over 4ft 3inch Jack Radcliffe, to score a converted try and go in at the break only nine points behind at 19-10.
Five minutes into the second half it was Norths turn to take advantage of an easy penalty in front of the posts from Rio.
Fifteen minutes into the second half North freshened things up bringing on replacements Martin Oosthuizen and Alex Bilby for Harry Laking, and Phil Swall.
North took control of the game again and exerted more pressure on the visitors thanks to captain Jonny Franks organisation and decision making. On the hour mark a grubber kick through from Rio was touched down by Taylor under the posts making the conversion easy for Von Rio.
The remaining twenty minutes of the game were even with Aspull attempting to get back into the game but North snuffing out any threats.
With only five minutes left on the clock there was slight concern for the referee who may or may not have been caught by Hoppy late tackle and was left flat out on the floor. However after treatment from both teams physios the referee was deemed fit to continue.
Aspull paid the price for a slow start and never really recovered from conceding three tries inside the first twenty minutes as North wound the clock down.
Final score 29-10.
Man of the match was awarded to Ashley Rio who just edged out Rob Greene and Jonny Frank.
The victory puts Northallerton into the semi final of the National Cup against Leicester Forrest at a venue yet to be named. The date has been pencilled in to be played on April 20th which is Norths next free weekend.
Next week North resume league action with a home game against Yarnbury, kick off at 3pm.
Northallerton second team played Middlesbrough seconds and produced a valiant and spirited display before falling to a narrow 0-5 defeat. North spent the last twenty minutes of the game camped inside the Boro 22 but could not find the all important try.
Next week North seconds are awaiting fixture confirmation.
These are my thoughts and not of the club in general.
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