Horden power past Blyth in second period

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BLYTH travelled to Horden’s Welfare Ground, which has not been a happy hunting ground over the years, and Saturday was no exception with Blyth travelling back up the A19 on the back of a 32-16 reverse.

Horden set out their stall by shoving Blyth back almost at will, in the early scrums.

And they continued to have the upper hand all afternoon, not just in the scrummaging but constantly punishing sloppy Blyth lineouts.

Blyth’s forwards outgunned the Horden forwards in the loose but it was the set pieces which were crucial to the result and Horden won that battle with ease.

Blyth suffered the loss of centre Adrian McKeown as early as two minutes with a hamstring injury with Callum Bradwell the replacement.

Horden were first off the mark with a try on nine minutes.

A scrum against the head was picked up and drove forward to the Blyth line with second row and Horden skipper, Michael Thurbon on hand to touch down with winger Craig Jones adding the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

This seemed to spur Blyth into action and they dominated the rest of the half.

After 18 minutes, following a Horden scrum from which the ball squirted out the side, Blyth wing forward Steve Long was the only player on the field to react, picking up and running in unopposed from virtually half way.

Andy Sutherland kicked the simple conversion for a 7-7 scoreline.

Blyth continued to dominate and were rewarded with two Sutherland penalties to take the score to 7-13 at half-time.

Horden were first on the scoreboard early in the second half with a penalty by Jones to reduce the arrears, but this was cancelled out by Sutherland on 45 minutes.

Horden then began to take control with some astute kicking into the corner by fly-half David Baines.

From one of these kicks a poor throw-in from a Blyth lineout was picked off by flanker Paul James and he touched down from the resulting catch and drive to make the score 15-16.

Within minutes the dose was repeated with another kick deep from Baines and another poor throw from Blyth, this time the ball being shipped along the backs for centre David Smith to score with ease.

Jones added the simple conversion for 22-16.

Blyth were still in the game at this point and a series of forward drives almost resulted in a try for winger Andy Barker who was held up over the Horden line.

Horden then produced two tries in quick succession, both by substitutes, to effectively kill off the game, although Blyth were denied a late try when prop Michael Barber was harshly adjudged to have been held up over the line.

Another disappointing loss for Blyth who, after a fine start to the season, now find themselves at the wrong end of the table.

Whilst there’s no crisis just yet, points are needed to climb the table, and with the next three fixtures against Guisborough, Gateshead and Alnwick, Blyth will have to find some form in these fixtures.

For so long this season Blyth’s pack have won all the plaudits for their dominant displays, however this week they suffered in the set-pieces and work will have to be done to rectify this.

Injured skipper, Tony Smithson said: “I’m disappointed, Horden were beatable and from dominating the first half we simply lost all direction in the second half.”

Blyth have a tough home game against in-form Guisborough on Saturday, kick off 2.15pm.