Wheatley Hills Home
By JUST H JOHNSON
unbeaten run continues.
Northallerton first team retained the top spot of Yorkshire 2 thanks to a 42-29 home win over Wheatley Hills.
The victory stretches Northallertons run to 33 unbeaten competitive games, stretching back to April 2017 which was against some sour cheesemen!
Before the game there was some confusion with selection, as the chairman of selectors thought Chris Mulholland was playing, only for Doug to turn up to bring his free flowing, dynamic style of rugby to the fore.
For the first time this season North actually started the game on the front foot, taking the lead early on and staying in front throughout the game.
North scored their first try after only two minutes thanks to James Hopkin in his 35th birthday, who just ‘nosed’ between two defenders to score fifteen metres in from the touchline. Argentinian fly half Ashley Rio adding the conversion.
Only two minutes later another strong run, this time from Joe Osleton, who rampaged in from just outside the Wheatley 22 (honestly) for his first try of the season, again converted by Rio.
North then took their foot off the gas and began to let the visitors back into the game.
There was a halt in play when Sam Taylor was injured by - as the a Hills player described - Hopkins huge and pointy nose, but after some first aid Taylor was okay to carry on.
Hills began to get more possession and thus more ground before scoring an easy penalty after twenty five minutes.
On the half hour mark the visitors finally got the try they deserved but it was all due to sloppy play from Northallerton. From a Hills lineout, North won the ball but instead of catching they opted to tap the ball back like a limp wristed cowboy into space, where the Hills number four gathered the ball to saunter over the line for an easy score in the corner.
With there now being only a six point difference, North realised they were in a proper game and began to dig deep. Good work by Jacob Sankey and Jeremy Deas enabled North to start retaining more ball and build momentum. This culminated with a converted try after 35 minutes for Phil Swall following a successful rolling maul.
Straight from the restart North dropped the ball enabling Hills retain possession. The visitors then caught North napping with a precisely executed cross field kick, caught by the opposite winger and touched down near the posts - hopefully Hoppy was watching!
Sorry for the Hoppy bashing.
Half time 21-15
North started the second half as they did the first, with two quick tries to give them a more cushioned lead.
Firstly, five minutes into the second half, Rio threw a outrageous dummy which his opposite number bought hook, line and sinker, before scoring under the posts for his easiest conversion of the day.
Four minutes later, more good work from Sankey created space out wide for the ageing veteran Simon Manthorpe to just manage to get his zimmer frame over the line. Rio with his fifth successive conversion.
Ten minutes later Hills were given a glimmer of hope when, to the astonishment of the crowd, they were awarded a penalty try after the first and only infringement.
North didn’t let the strange decision affect them and stuck to their game plan of keeping the ball with their stronger forwards as the opposition grew more tired.
There was another brief break in play following a kerfuffle involving Jonny Franks, Wheatley Hills number six and a couple of handbags. To the referees credit he allowed brief cuddle to come to a natural end and deemed no cards necessary because neither player would really worry Anthony Joshua.
Ten minutes from time North went on one of their well worked lineout catch and drives from 22 metres out. With the opposition trying desperately, by any means legal or not to halt the drive, Sankey peeled off the back of the maul for a simple and unopposed jog to the try line. Rio capped off his perfect conversion ratio with the sixth and final kick.
Five minutes from time Hills got their fourth and bonus point earning try with a quick tap penalty that caught North unaware allowing Hills winger to score in the corner.
Rio showed he’s not perfect with a 80th minute penalty attempt which drifted just wide.
Final score 42-29
Man of the match was awarded to Jacob Sankey.
Thanks must be given for the swift upload of match photos by Alison Sankey which enables them to go into press releases sent on Sunday, and this in no way affected the man of the match decision.
D*** of the day was awarded to video camera man Ed Meeks, who had ONE job and forgot to press record for the first ten minutes of the second half.
Next week North travel away to Old Grovians hoping to keep their unbeaten run going for at least one more week, kick off at 3pm.
Northallerton second team just managed to scrape together a team of fourteen forwards, one back and Craig Nasby to travel to Selby for their first game of the season. Unfortunately North fell to a convincing 53-5 defeat, with Norths only points coming from a try from utility player Mark Popejoy.
Next week North seconds hope to have a stronger squad available for their home game against Old Rishworthians, kick off also at 3pm.