PLAYING their first league match since late January and visiting Redcar’s McKinley Park ground for the first time in many years, Blyth were made to fight hard before coming away with the five points.
Fielding a much changed side for a variety of reasons, Blyth were far from their best and at times were nervy and disjointed.
Credit is due to Redcar, who have improved enormously since being thrashed 68-6 at Plessey Road in November as they gave Blyth all the trouble they could handle.
Blyth made a bright start and after an early miss from Redcar went ahead when hooker Kev Barratt set up right wing James Bostock for a fine try.
Fly-half Andy Sutherland converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
On the quarter hour Redcar reduced the lead when centre Danny McKvenny scored in the right hand corner.
The powerfully built Sutherland then burst through the centre to score, converting the kick himself to put the visitors 14-5 ahead.
A strong cross-field breeze was causing both sides problems, particularly at lineouts and kicks for touch.
A second try for Redcar scored by back row Andy Wiles kept them in touch 10-14 at the break.
Blyth brought on debutant Chris Kelk for Dean Reay at prop, Martin Stevenson moved to hooker and Barratt switched to prop.
Early in the second half Redcar took the lead for the first time through substitute fly-half Kieran McMahon, with left wing Dan Addison converting to make the score 17-14.
Almost immediately visiting full-back Chris Grey restored Blyth’s lead with a blistering run and Sutherland converted for 17-21.
Blyth brought on 19-year-old Jack Eastman at back row in place of Stefan Krzysiak.
Play became scrappy as both sides began to tire with Redcar having the edge territorially without being able to further breach Blyth ’s defences.
Blyth finally broke Redcar ’s hearts and capped an afternoon of hard graft with a last minute try from captain and scrum-half Tony Smithson, which Sutherland converted for a final score of 17-28.
Blyth only fielded two substitutes instead of the permitted three, which on another day might have proved disastrous.
Speaking after the game, captain Tony Smithson said: “It wasn’t vintage Blyth and we were far from our best, but we came here looking for five points and that’s exactly what we got, so I am satisfied.
“Credit to Redcar for making us fight all the way for the points.”
On Saturday second placed Blyth visit leaders Consett.