Injuries blight win

ON an overcast afternoon at New Mills Playing Field, Blyth beat Bishop Auckland to retain their unbeaten record.

But it came with a price with injuries to second row Craig Turnbull and fly-half Gregg Dawson likely to keep them out the side for some weeks.

Kicking towards the clubhouse end, Blyth spurned two penalties for goal in the first ten minutes, opting to kick for touch and position with neither moves producing points on the board.

Bishops led after 18 minutes with a Tim Tomblig penalty.

Within ten minutes Blyth were level with a penalty from Dawson, who then added two more to put Blyth ahead 9-3 at the interval.

Two minutes before the break Turnbull was carried off with what looked like ligament damage, with Wayne Dobson coming on in his place.

Early in the second half Dawson suffered a back injury which resulted in Andy Sutherland moving from centre to fly-half, James Bostock from wing to centre and Dean Langdown to wing.

A further change saw Oliver Clark replaced by Andy Barker on the left wing.

It was a hard game with some robust challenges but by no means rough, and Bishops suffered their fair share of injuries and substitutions.

There was no doubt Blyth’s fluency was badly disrupted by the changes and Bishops took full advantage, striking early in the second half with a try from second row Luke Bryan-Victory which Tombling converted to take the lead at 10-9.

When Blyth missed a penalty and Tomblling kicked another to stretch the lead to 13-9, the game looked to be slipping away from the visitors.

Blyth were forced to defend desperately as Bishops threw everything at them, but their defensive covering and tackling kept the home side at bay.

Blyth skipper and scrum-half Tony Smithson did an excellent job inspiring his team to even greater efforts as the game entered a lengthy period of injury time.

With a last throw of the dice the Blyth pack drove Bishops over their try line with hooker Martin Stephenson managing to touch down.

With Andy Sutherland kicking the conversion Blyth led 16-13 and defended desperately not to concede a penalty before the final whistle.

On Saturday Blyth are at home to Yarm with a 3pm kick-off.