Blyth show bottle for relegation fight
Blyth first XV secured a vital win in their battle to avoid relegation from Durham Northumberland Division 2 when they beat fellow strugglers South Shields on Saturday.
From the start the commitment from both sides was obvious, with crunching tackles going in from the whistle.
Blyth had the upper hand in the scrums for the majority of the game, with the welcome return of prop forward Lee Dunwoodie causing problems for the visitors.
With ample first phase ball, Blyth ran with endless energy, with the pace of Norman Calvert and Fraser Tarn-Chapman outstanding.
Blyth were limited to two first half penalties from the boot of Andrew Sutherland, in the main due to the strong, intimidating defence from the visitors.
The home side, when called upon, defended their line and in turn did not shirk from the tackle. There were a number of positional battles across the game, with the much vaunted back row of the visitors coming against an equally committed trio of Wayne Davies, Richy Cole and Andrew Calvert, with the Blyth trio marginally on top.
The second half saw much the same with two heavy weight packs slugging it out for possession, and the backs running at every opportunity.
A flowing Blyth move saw pacy centre Tran-Chapman break the visitors’ defensive line and his pace took him away to score the game’s only try, converted by Sutherland.
Both sides brought on fresh legs as the game drew to a close, with Chris Kelk, a powerful front row replacement for Dan Cole who had put in a ferocious shift in the power house of the scrum. The change, however, did not alter Blyth’s dominance in the set-piece and the visitors were on the back foot from most scrums.
The game drew to a close without any further score although Shields pressed hard at the Blyth line in the final stages, only to be met with determined defence from Cole Charlton and the Sutherland brothers.
Blyth captain Karl Rose rallied his team as the clock ticked down to a much needed and deserved victory.