By JUST H JOHNSON
Sorry for short report, having a busy day at work. Only had 4 coffees, 1 tea and an hours sleep since I got here.
Northallerton first team made the short journey down the A1 to play Wetherby RUFC for the first time since the season of 2014-2015 when Wetherby won all 3 out of 3 encounters. This time though it was North, who were cheered on by a vast following that outnumbered the home support, as they just edged proceedings, winning 29-22 to maintain their unbeaten run and top spot of Yorkshire 2.
Norths players admitted after the game that this was one of their most tiring and physical games they had played for a while, with no time to relax or switch off. Allegedly Simon Manthorpe nearly broke sweat!!!
The first half was thoroughly entertaining with both teams swapping tries tit for tat, North just creeping in front scoring three tries to two.
Norths first try from Iain Swall followed good work by the forwards before Wetherby then responded with a try themselves. Norths next two tries came from the backs firstly, Sam Taylor with a brilliantly executed backs move. Then Ben James celebrated his return to the first team, with a try in the corner similar to his last outing in the final earlier this year. Russian fly half Cashley Rio with both conversions, one from an acute angle near the sideline.
Sandwiched between the two tries were there was a converted Wetherby try and penalty to send the teams in at half time 15-19 to Northallerton.
The second half was also a tight encounter with North again just out scoring the home team by two tries to one.
For the first North try, Jonny Frank did his best to imitate Xander Metcalfe with an amazing and dazzling sidestep - which somehow worked, before Wetherby then replied with a converted try to close the gap to just two points. Which at one point was confusing because the ref thought the scores were level.
After seventy minutes North freshened their side up bringing on hooker JP Coyne for the tiring 41 year old veteran Simon Manthorpe and swapping Jeremy Deas to back row. This paid immediate dividends with a try for Deas in the corner. Who apparently chipped a nail in scoring and has been ordered to rest all week and hopefully will be fit for next week.
Despite immense pressure from Wetherby, North held on for the remaining ten minutes to seal the win.
Man of the match was awarded to Jonny Frank.
Next week North are at home to Old Otliensians with a 3pm kick off.
North second team travelled to Heath and put in a valiant effort before falling to a 29-17 defeat. Scores were level 17-17 going into the last fifteen minutes before Heath pulled away.
Norths tries came from Jack Radcliffe (2) and Stan Welford - nee Parry. Brian Tucker adding one conversion. Man of the match was awarded to Jack Radcliffe who just got the vote over Paul Dixon. Both players must surely be close to a first team recall in the near future. However, D of the Day went to Captain Paul James for a small bout of hand bags with a mild mannered team mate who was only shouting “I could really do with some Irn Bru” - and not ‘I’m going to flamin do you’ ?
Next week North seconds are also at home, but to Otley 3rd team, kick off 3pm.
Northallerton Ladies team also continued to grow from strength to strength and maintain their successful season with a 50-20 win over Hornsea Ladies. North had five different try scorers with captain Emily McCormack leading the way with three tries, followed by Steph Welford (2), R Ridley, H Coombes and J Chapman. Apologies for not knowing some full names - but I’m blaming Barra for not telling me.
Special thanks should be given to Hornsea for making the journey despite being a few players short.
Next Sunday 28th, Northallerton Ladies have another fixture at home to Rotherham with a 2pm kick off.