This week’s fixture saw Newton Aycliffe RUFC welcome visitors Yarm to Moore Lane. The pitch looked superb and the newly erected fencing which displays the club’s sponsor boards looked resplendent. The weather was bright and sunny with very little wind – a beautiful day to play rugby.
The squad selected looked strong, despite being unable to call upon over ten regular first team players. Yarm arrived with a very youthful looking squad many of whom gave some of Aycliffe’s veterans twenty plus years.
Tommy Cooper, Newton Aycliffe’s oldest ever player at well over sixty, suggested that youthful exuberance could play a massive part in the result. Taking into consideration Tommy’s age it is believed he was talking about the players on both sides. The sidelines were packed with many old ex-players watching the match along with the players’ wives, girlfriends, children, mums and dads. It was a real family atmosphere and a joy to be a part of, #Aycliffefamily.
The match kicked off and in no time at all it appeared the youthful exuberance of the Yarm team was going to play a massive part in the result. Yarm forwards drove Aycliffe back towards the home team’s try line and they were eventually awarded a scrummage. Yarm hooked the ball back well and their big number eight picked up and smashed his way over the line to score. NARUFC 7-0 down within ten minutes and not looking good at all.
Thankfully the vocal home supporters never lost faith and they were repaid with the inevitable James Thacker try which was followed quickly by Gareth Parsonage dancing over for one of his own. 10 -7 to Aycliffe and the players began to settle down and play a more controlled game as advocated by the Club Coaches. The forwards began to regain control of the ruck area and several pick-and-drives saw the visitors struggling to contain them. So much so the Aycliffe big lad Jeff Hodgson crashed over from the base of a ruck to score a try; James Cocks, back from his sojourn in foreign lands, kicked the conversion to take a 17-7 lead.
More good forward play from the resulting kick off saw Aycliffe’s backs running the ball from within their own half; a very clever kick behind the Yarm backline saw the ball bounce awkwardly within the 22 metre area. The defensive fullback, seeing the large bulk of James Thacker bearing down on him at lightning pace, took his eye off the ball at the crucial moment allowing Thacker to collect the ball, bulldozer the defender and crash over the line for the final score of the half.
Half time score 22 – 7
The second half appeared to be a mirror image of the first; Aycliffe forwards dominated the rucks and the mauls, the big runners carried especially well and broke tackle after tackle. Three quick tries were reward for their efforts – Captain Andrew Littlefair smashed his way over the line dragging defenders with him, Craig Holmes pirouetted his way over from twenty metres out and after several thwarted attempts Warren Parsonage ran his maximum sprinting distance to force his way over from less than a metre out to make the score 37 -7.
Shaun Tomlinson, who travels from Colchester every week to play (!), picked up the ball from the back of a maul to run through the tiring Yarm defence to score from 22 metres out. James Thacker soon completed his hat-trick with a beautiful 40 metre run which combined deft running and brute force which left the Yarm defence in tatters; James Cocks kicked the conversion to make the score 49 -7. Adam Gascoigne, with fifteen minutes to play, scored the try his hard work and skill deserved. James Cocks completed Aycliffe’s scoring with another conversion 56-7.
What followed was quite bizarre. Mark Sylvester and Connor Blakey who had both been on the field a matter of minutes got yellow carded for what could be called “professional fouls” and Aycliffe finished the game with thirteen men. Yarm took full advantage to score a consolation try which was brilliantly converted. Final score 56 – 14. Away to Richmondshire on Saturday 16th April, 3pm KO.