NORTH TWICKENHAM BOUND
By JUST H JOHNSON
NORTHALLERTON ARE TWICKENHAM BOUND.
Northallerton first team fought an epic battle with Midland team Leicester Forest at Brompton Lodge before emerging 41-30 victors. This result sends Northallerton to Twickenham for the final of the Senior National Vase competition. North will play Honiton RUFC from the Cornwall/Devon area, on Sunday May 5th with a 1pm kick off with what promises to be a beer/cider festival of fun and frolics.
On Saturday 20th April Northallerton put on a family day of events to attract as many locals as possible and were rewarded with a crowd of over 400 people. The masses were entertained before and after the game but the match itself was definitely the hi-light of the day, with the lead constantly changing hands with a glut of eleven tries!
Straight from the kick off Leicester Forest went on the front foot and kept North in their own 22 and after only three minutes they went 0-5 up with the first try of the day in the corner.
Less than five minutes later North were level thanks to good ground made from a 15 yard rolling maul. As the maul gradually slowed down, Jedd Bainbridge spun the ball out through the backs before James Hopkin finished in the corner.
Only a couple of minutes later Forest went back in front thanks to a straight forward penalty in front of the posts.
After twenty minutes more good forward play with a rolling maul created space for the backs, allowing Benjamin James to bustle over the try line, Kiwi Ashley Rio adding the conversion.
Five minutes later it was Forests turn to take the lead when a mistake by North five yards from their own try line gifted the ball to the visitors who scored under the posts.
From the restart, a brilliant chase by Matthew Marsay retained the ball for North before eventually releasing Ben James to score an unconverted try in the corner.
North increased their lead ten minutes later when a break from Marsay was halted fifteen yards short but Hopkin was on hand to gather the ball, break past two defenders and score another unconverted try.
Just before half time North again failed to effectively clear their lines and allowed Forests’ prop to trundle over for a converted try.
Half time 22-20 and there was a well deserved rest from the frenetic activities for both players and the crowd.
North started the second half keeping the visitors in their own half and probing the Forest defence for gaps. After fifteen minutes the visitors defence cracked allowing Marsay to cross the line for a try converted by Rio.
Five minutes later Forest responded with their best try of the day. A intricate line out move followed by a well worked backs move which then allowed them to score a converted try midway between the posts and sideline.
After sixty five minutes it was Norths turn, when the 6 foot 5 inch Iain Swall galloped away and out paced both the Forest winger and the full back to score a try out wide. Rio again adding the conversion, this time from a tight angle.
Ten minutes from time Forest slotted a straight forward penalty to put them only six points behind, meaning a converted try would win it for them.
North looked content to keep the ball and gradually wind the clock down. With the crowd pleading with the team to just keep the ball, Swall broke free to score a try in the corner and seal a historic victory for Northallerton.
After the game some of the older club stalwarts - those who could still speak - remarked that this was the most exciting game of rugby seen at Brompton Lodge for a long long time, and was a fine example of how good, hard rugby should played with brilliant sportsmanship shown all round.
With Norths tries coming via five from the backs and two from the forwards it was impossible to pick a man of the match as the whole squad had an outstanding day - even Dougie!
Thankfully afterward, there was no major incidents to mention like people falling through tables or being helped by Northallerton Street Angels!?!?!?
North now have two weeks to rest and get themselves ready for the final at Twickenham.
There will be supporters coaches leaving from the club for the final, please contact the club and keep a look out on social media sites for details.