BLYTH travelled to Guisborough knowing a tough game was in hand – and that is exactly what they got from the promotion chasers who are now assured of at least a play-off sport after a 52-26 win.
Guisborough started strongest and at a ferocious pace, however, Blyth took a surprise early lead through wing-forward Dean Langdown, who hacked on a loose ball to score under the posts.
Fly-half Andy Sutherland, who had an excellent kicking game, slotted over the simple conversion for a 7-0 lead after only eight minutes.
Guisborough’s response was almost immediate and Blyth found themselves 19-7 down with the home forwards setting up ample ball for their powerful centres who caused Blyth trouble all afternoon.
To their credit, Blyth chipped away, with their forwards matching the Guisborough pack and forcing two penalties which Sutherland duly converted.
Another try for Guisborough ensured a bonus point before Sutherland was successful again with another penalty to make the half-time score 26-16.
The first half had taken its toll on Blyth and head coach Darren Cunningham used his substitution options wisely, regularly rotating the forwards.
Again Guisborough started the half brightly and were soon on the scoresheet, scoring in the corner for a 31-16 lead.
But again Blyth refused to lie down and they responded with a fine try for winger Andrew Barker, who cut an excellent attacking line to score under the posts.
With Sutherland successful with the conversion, Blyth sensed a bonus point on the cards at 31-23, however, Guisborough had other ideas and scored a further three tries to a solitary penalty by Blyth to take the final score to 52-26.
The scoreline was a little harsh on Blyth who made Guisborough fight all the way for their five-point win, however, they deserve to be where they are in the league as they are a quality side and could pip Alnwick for the automatic promotion place.
Blyth showed a lot of resolve and determination under severe pressure and will welcome Gateshead to Plessey Road next week, knowing they can get a result if they apply themselves correctly and bring their game with them.
Guisborough could also do Blyth a favour by defeating relegation rivals Ryton.
Skipper Tony Smithson said: “We were beaten by a good Guisborough outfit and they showed why they’re second in the league, however, I thought we really made them graft for their win and they scored three tries through our mistakes when we were chasing the game.
“I’m pleased with the lads’ effort and application , and despite the defeat we, as a team, know we can get something from next week’s Gateshead game if we get things both right on the training paddock and on the field of play.
“We’re in a precarious position with only two games left but remain confident we can stay in this league, and that’s what we intend to do.”
Blyth entertain fourth placed Gateshead on Saturday with a 3pm kick-off.