FOR the first time this season Blyth were able to select a full strength back-line and it showed as Ryton were crushed at Plessey Road.
On a fine day for rugby, Blyth welcomed skipper Tony Smithson into the team at scrum-half for his first game of the season and his man-of-the-match performance was largely behind everything Blyth did well in an impressive display of fast paced, open rugby.
It was Blyth who dominated from the kick-off and they took the lead after only five minutes with a try from close range by their powerful No. 8 Wayne Davie. Stand-off Andy Sutherland added the difficult conversion for a 7-0 lead.
After Blyth’s forwards drove into the Ryton 22, Smithson fed full-back Graeme Sutherland on the blind side and he strolled over for a simple, but well worked try. Brother Andy added the conversion again for a 14-0 lead after only 15 minutes.
Blyth continued to dominate and Ryton simply had no answer to the ferocious pace of their game, and it was no surprise when they scored again after 30 minutes through centre James Bostock, who outstripped the covering defence to score in the corner, this time Sutherland missed the difficult conversion.
The home side then seemed to fall asleep for the final ten minutes of the half and allowed Ryton back into the game with a soft try and penalty to reduce the arrears to 19-8 at half-time.
Ryton continued to assert pressure early in the second half and Blyth were reduced to 14 men when Richie Cole was sin-binned.
Ryton threw everything at Blyth for the next ten minutes but the home side defended superbly under severe pressure.
With the return of Cole, Blyth rolled up their sleeves and once again took control.
Director of rugby Darren Cunningham made full use of the rolling substitution laws with some astute tactical changes where all three replacements, Lee Dunwoodie, Jack Eastman and Adrian McKeown, getting good spells of game-time.
Blyth’s forwards were able to take balls against the head in the scrums almost at will.
Andy Sutherland kicked a penalty then from a well worked lineout catch and drive, hooker Martin Stephenson powered his way over from close range to increase Blyth’s lead to 27-8, and more importantly earned a deserved bonus point.
Andy Sutherland added the conversion and then chipped in with two tries of his own, both converted, to cap a fine display and give Blyth a 43-8 victory and five welcome after some recent sloppy performances.
The result was just the tonic Blyth needed and they will hope to build on this with some very winnable fixtures in the next few weeks.
The influence of Cunningham’s coaching and the return of skipper Smithson bodes well for the rest of the season with all players and coaching staff are confident Blyth can climb up the league during the second half of the season.
Smithson said: “It’s awesome to be back playing again, although I’m knackered, but I’m also pleased with how things went personally.
“However, this was a great team performance and the lads deserve all the accolades they’ll get in the clubhouse.”
Cunningham added: “For once we’ve been able to select from a virtual full squad and that, coupled with some excellent training sessions, has us playing the kind of rugby we want to.
“We dictated play today and it’s good to see the hard work which has been put in on the training paddock paying dividends.”
A special mention went to James Bostock, who played centre, winger then scrum-half during the game as a result of Blyth’s tactical substitutions.
Blyth travel to Acklam this weekend in a league fixture. Kick-off 2.15pm.