Newton Aycliffe Rugby Club fell back in the promotion race in Durham and Northumberland League 3 with a crucial home defeat to 2nd place Houghton.  Despite having a number of players unavailable, Aycliffe were able to select one of their strongest teams of the season to meet the league’s in form side.  The game began with a minute’s silence for former Aycliffe player Johnny Hart who sadly died in the week.
The visitors were well organised and their back row were powerful; early in the game they took the lead with a penalty goal.  Aycliffe were under the cosh for almost the whole first quarter, but their defence held firm.  On twenty minutes, Houghton added their second penalty goal.
Deryk Cairns was the standout forward for Aycliffe, putting himself everywhere on the field, but Houghton were able to score a try before the break, with the conversion giving them a 13 – 0 lead.
Aycliffe put in plenty of effort in the second half and they had the pace advantage in the backs.  Houghton defended well but Aycliffe came close to scoring on a number of occasions, but the final pass did not go to hand.  Jonny Griffith had a number of good runs down the wing.  Houghton withstood the pressure and used their forwards to good advantage as they added a second try.
A third Houghton try saw them going for the bonus point as the clock wound down, but Aycliffe held firm for the final minutes.  The game ended with a 23 – 0 win for the visitors.
This victory for Houghton puts them in pole position for the second promotion place behind Whitby and it would take a big slip up from either of the top two to see them fail to go up.  Aycliffe put in plenty of effort but were beaten on the day by the better side.
The team now need to correct the errors and finish off the season with a flourish.  Their next match is on 31st January when they travel to Jarrovians; kick-off 2:15.
Aycliffe Rugby is sponsored by S-Cars and Whitehouse Funeral Service.