Blyth take the title with win at Whitby

THE Showfield at Whitby has never been one of Blyth’s favourite venues, but that was changed forever on Saturday when they brought their season to a triumphant conclusion by winning the Durham and Northumberland division two championship.

While perhaps not at their most fluent the visitors carried too many guns for the already relegated Yorkshire side who were never in with a realistic chance but defended sturdily throughout.

It was understandable that thoughts strayed some 50 miles north west where Consett, Blyth’s only rivals for the title, were at home to Bishop Auckland – early news was that the kick-off had been delayed.

Blyth got off to a cracking start with a fifth minute try from James Bostock made by fellow centre Graeme Sutherland.

Fly-half Gregg Dawson converted for a 7-0 lead.

Bostock and Dawson repeated the dose in the 17th minute, doubling the score to 14-0.

By now Blyth were beginning to hit top form, and when right wing Andy Barker scored a fine individual try which Dawson converted for 21-0, one began to fear for Whitby.

To their credit the home side defended robustly and the game hit a trough leading up to half-time with the teams swapping unconverted tries, left wing John Haddon for Whitby and Graeme Sutherland for Blyth making the interval score 26-5, but more importantly giving the visitors a precious bonus point for scoring four tries or more.

News filtered through from Consett that the game was under way with Consett leading 8-6.

Early in the second half Blyth full-back Chris Grey scored a picture try after an excellent handling move.

Left wing Ollie Clark added to Whitby’s pain with a try converted by Dawson for 38-5.

By now the game was won but Blyth’s coaches Dave Massie and Richard Calvert rang the changes, bringing on Adrian McKeown, Stefan Krzysiak and Nick Fraser for full-back Grey, back row Steven Long and prop Stuart Brown respectively.

Blyth picked up the pace again in the final quarter with Barker scoring his second try and second row Craig Turnbull being put in by scrum-half Tony Smithson. Dawson converted both for a 52-5 final score.

News eventually filtered through that although Consett had won 25-11 they had only scored three tries, therefore failing to gain a bonus point and leaving Blyth as champions.

Afterwards, ecstatic Blyth skipper Tony Smithson praised his players and coaches Massie and Calvert for the amount of work everybody had put in during the season.

“There were one or two blips along the way but generally we played some excellent rugby and at times simply outclassed our opponents,” he said.

Team manager Roger Phillips added: “While endorsing everything Tony has said, I must underline the immense contribution he himself has made both on and off the pitch.

“In addition, strong support has come from Kev Barratt and his wife Sandra, the club’s sports therapist.

“As for the players, their dedication, team spirit, discipline and sportsmanship has been exemplary and a credit to the club.”