Blyth dominate Consett to earn big win

Man of the match in Blyth's win over Consett, Dave Baxter, breaks with the ball.
Man of the match in Blyth's win over Consett, Dave Baxter, breaks with the ball.
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ON a perfect day for rugby with a pitch in fine condition due to the unseen hard work of groundsman Nick Stafford, Blyth welcomed Consett to their Plessey Road ground determined to avenge their 30-11 defeat at Belle Vue earlier in the season.

On that day, if it could go wrong, it did.

It was evident in the warm-up that Blyth were fired up for the game and that certainly proved to be the case as they came away with a thumping 50- 17 victory as they dominated in all departments of play.

It was Consett who were on the scoresheet first with a penalty after only five minutes.

But that proved to be their only highlight in a half where they were totally dominated by a Blyth pack who were firing on all cylinders and a set of backs who constantly exploited gaps in the Consett defence.

On eight minutes Blyth wing Adrian McKeown broke clear and was tackled deep in the Consett 22 where, from the resulting ruck, the ball was shipped to the backs with blindside wing-forward Dave Baxter joining the line and delivering a wonderful one-handed offload in the tackle, releasing centres Graeme Sutherland and James Bostock to put winger Andy Barker in the corner, who then cleverly rounded his marker to touch down under the posts.

Fly-half Andy Sutherland, who gave a flawless display of goal kicking, added the conversion for a 7-3 lead.

Blyth continued to dominate and after ten minutes a quick tap penalty from skipper Tony Smithson, Blyth’s forwards made good ground and the ball was popped to prop Michael Barber, who also delivered a neat offload in the tackle to put Barker in the corner for his second try, Sutherland kicking the difficult conversion for a 14-3 lead.

Sutherland then landed another penalty while constant pressure from the Blyth forwards resulted in several more penalties against Consett and it was only a matter of time before referee Grahame Crozier, who had an excellent game, sin-binned the visitors tight head for hands in the ruck.

Sutherland again kicking the penalty for a 20-3 lead.

Blyth’s forwards then made the most of their numerical advantage with No. 8 Wayne Davie expertly controlling the ball at the back of a scrum for a push-over try.

Sutherland continued with his flawless kicking display to push the score to 27-3.

It was no real surprise when Blyth were awarded another penalty on half-time after a crunching tackle by Davie on the Consett centre, in which he failed to release in the resulting ruck. This was duly converted by Sutherland to give Blyth a 30-3 interval lead.

The second half continued in the same vein with Blyth dominating proceedings, and it was fitting that skipper Smithson scored the all-important bonus point try under the posts on 48 minutes after a good break from fly-half Sutherland, who added the extras for a 37-3 lead.

Director of rugby Darren Cunningham made full use of his substitutes with Ian Rice, John Kelly and Richard Cole all getting ample game time, and the front row getting rest at regular intervals.

Blyth continued to control the game, forcing Consett to concede further penalties, and Sutherland added yet another on 52 minutes to increase Blyth’s lead to 40-3.

Almost from the kick-off Blyth scored the try of the match through centre Graeme Sutherland.

Good ground made from the forwards set fly-half Sutherland away, who in turn found Baxter, hooker Martin Stephenson and second row Wayne Dobson in the centres. They in turn made ground before Dobson’s offload to Sutherland put him in under the posts for a simple conversion for brother Andy to take the score to 47-3.

A further penalty by Sutherland on 65 minutes gave Blyth the magical 50 pointer and this wrapped up Blyth’s scoring for the day.

For the last ten minutes, Blyth wasted opportunities to score further tries and their shape and discipline dropped, not surprisingly after their efforts.

Consett, to their credit, never gave up and scored two consolation tries to make the final score an impressive 50-17.

This was an excellent performance from a Blyth side who are improving week by week, and this win sees them go above Gosforth and Consett in the league.

A continuation of this form will certainly see Blyth climb the table further and ease any relegation fears fans have shown.

The players and coaching staff have known for some time that Blyth would turn the corner and consistency will be the key factor in turning the season around.

Director of rugby Cunningham said: “The lads have made my job very easy today, right from the warm-up where they took responsibility on their own shoulders to get the job in hand done.

“There was a high level of confidence before the game but without any arrogance, and it showed in a thoroughly professional performance today.

“They’ve reached and even exceeded levels of performance I’ve been expecting from them.

“I’m a little disappointed with our performance in the last ten minutes but we can work on that and it shouldn’t distract from an excellent display of rugby.”

On Saturday Blyth are away to Medicals. Kick-off 2.15pm.