Blyth recover from poor start

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BLYTH got their promotion challenge back on track in an absorbing match at Plessey Road but not before a severe shock as Wallsend powered to a 19-0 lead after 25 minutes.

After the first quarter it would have taken a brave soul to bet against Wallsend, who were well worth their lead and playing with pace and fire as they had Blyth at sixes and sevens and chasing shadows.

Within four minutes centre Dan O’Sullivan crossed for a try converted by fly-half Steve Rutherford for 7-0.

At this stage it was all Wallsend with Blyth unable to get out of their own half and it came as no surprise when powerful number eight George Irvine scored with Rutherford converting for 14-0.

Blyth were looking ponderous and completely out of sorts as Rutherford scored a third try but missed the conversion, taking the lead to 19-0.

Blyth had made only two meaningful incursions into the Wallsend half when just before half-time right wing Andy Barker ran 80 metres to score a spectacular try which home fly-half Barry Smith converted to cut the lead to 19-7 at the break.

The obvious cliché springs to mind, but Blyth were a completely transformed team in the second half.

With Chris Grey replacing Oliver Clark on the left wing, Blyth scored an early and crucial try through full-back Steve Hall, putting them back in the game at 12-19.

A try from substitute Grey cut the deficit to 17-19 and Blyth were now on a roll.

Winger Barker, a great chaser of seemingly lost causes, pounced on a defensive fumble and used soccer skills to good effect before touching down.

Blyth looked a different side from the one which had stumbled through the first half and a try from centre Graeme Sutherland stretched the lead.

Blyth were looking unstoppable and a clever back pass from skipper Tony Smithson put in number eight Wayne Davie.

Karl Rose replaced Steve Long at back row and it was a precision pass from Rose that put Sutherland over for the final try which scrum-half Smithson converted for 39-19.

In the post-match inquest it was difficult to pinpoint what ailed Blyth in the first half, although far too much possession was gifted to Wallsend.

Skipper Smithson said: “Everything that could go wrong did in that first half hour, but we stuck together as a team, supporting each other until we came good.”

Blyth picked up a bonus point for scoring four plus tries.

The game was refereed by Jason Gilbert from Ontario Canada who was on an exchange visit to Northumberland.

Blyth’s next game is on Saturday, November 5, at home to Redcar, kick-off 2.15pm.