County Cup Quarter-Final
Durham County Cup, Ryton visit Greenwood road
Report By Mr Munns
Rocket Man – Elton John 1972
I have been asked several times this week if the annual Bonfire/fireworks display was being put on by the club. Obviously having a section of the club which houses a state of the art plastic pitch means that some of the usual activities are curtailed but on balance having seen so many impressive games this season so far, a few whizz’s and damp sausage is not going to be missed. Just to make up for it I will try and weave as many references into the match report with the usual heavy handedness.
All change this week with a Sunday home fixture which gave the chance to catch up with friends who are attached to junior rugby which is always a tonic. At present the Colts are enjoying an entertaining run in the league but cup rugby is an altogether different animal as there is no following fixture to balance the books. The Durham cup has the plate competition on offer, but eyes are on proceeding through the rounds one game at a time.
As warm up started the pitch looked full with players then Ryton jogged out, so the Billingham squad looked deep. The supporters were also milling around with various conversations regarding team selection, player positon, the different types of warm wind and the rules around wearing of gum shields. The subs benches were being tested by various coaching staff which gave them some protection from the biting wind that was blowing from Harry’s hill down towards the club house.
Radders was wandering around happily shaking hands ever much the professional, any chance of an autograph?
So Ryton in Blue/white played into the wind with Billingham (Do I have to say in Green and white #bleedgreen) receiving the kick off playing towards the club house. Coaches in full kit are all geared up, the benches and technical area is loaded, Ritchie has flag, I have pen primed. Game on.
Ryton kick off into the wind didn’t go the distance so Billingham scrum right on the centre spot. I don’t know if it was the conditions but the early play was scrappy but with Billingham playing in the Ryton half. The Billingham forwards were quickly asserting themselves around the ruck and with strong runs in open play with Ryan, Harvey and Lewis all wiling carriers. The nudge kick was employed to break up the passing but was just too far for a Billingham retrieve but left a good position. Several attacks went and Ryton tried to clean only for Oscar to run it back with interest. Billingham set up with Harvey on the burst to set up good position, with the forwards looking eager it was Ryan who broke over for the first try. Conversion by Luke which arced like a rocket out of a milk bottle into the car park, 7 – 0.
The first half saw both teams set up chances with Ryton looking to move the ball along the line and Billingham creating little combinations that saw good breaks. The Billingham set piece was not working as well as in previous weeks but this was more than compensated by the defence and attack structure. Sam at 10 was pulling the strings or chancing the gap to move the team forward and Billingham were unlucky not to score through Tom who was just in touch when crossing the line. Lots of chances and with Billingham on the front foot, quick hands put Harry Burnard (can there be too many Harry’s?) it to space, he found a peach of a line to go under the posts, Luke put the next conversions over the club house roof for 14 - 0.
Billingham looked to continue with the pressure setting the backs up with Harry Burnard setting up Luke out on the wing to fizz like a Catherine Wheel that has lost its pin, only being stopped by the touch line. The backs were now making inroads but it was another forwards surge and that man again Ryan bagging another try as Luke again made some walk a long way to retrieve the ball. 21 – 0.
Ryton were on the front foot for the short remainder of the half but the Billingham defensive tackles and work in the breakdown gave them little reward and a forced knock on brought proceedings to the half time.
Sean got the squad together to ring the changes in various positions; it is very nice after years of looking to see if you have 15 players available to see the strength and depth available and to be honest every player stepping up. I tried to put some more notes on the sheet to make the report more action packed as some mentioned more action less rambling. The sunlight was nice but wasn’t really warming so the lined hat was a must.
Second half with Billingham facing Harry’s hill plus the wind. Ryton catch the kick and get straight back into the Billingham half, Ryan is caught lazy running with the kick seeing Ryton well into Billingham territory. The set piece continues to be a mystery with jumpers being held up in the air rather than used for goal posts and the scrum being re-run several times for all sorts of infringement. The revised Billingham backs line is looking sparky like a sparkler and a cracking brake from Leon set another Billingham attack in motion. Crisp passing sets Isaac Hodgson, a key player having an outstanding season, break clear and grab a try, with Luke ringing the post with the kick. 26 – 0.
The Ryton kick off sees Harry Chapple take a clean catch and set well, breaking news Harry Beadling is also on the pitch so the Harry count is mounting up. Billingham are now playing up the middle with strong runs as the second half players look to stretch their muscles. Another cracking run from Leon is unlucky not to result in a try but the final pass is a bit forced after so much good work. Both Luke and Sam keep the attacks going and a break from Tom stretches the Ryton defence with Sam gate exploding in support to run it in. Luke tries to place the ball into the Borough council yard for 33 – 0.
Now regular supporters/followers/readers will have noticed no mention of a certain person but I can report that Mr Featherstone Snr was in attendance. I can report that Alfie had been unleashed from the technical area and into active play. From the kick off it got a bit fraught as players started to get a bit abrasive and a series on penalties and more scrum attempts saw Billingham pegged back. Despite holding Ryton up on the line penalties were given and people intervened when they didn’t have to. This saw Ryton bag an unconverted try 33 – 5.
At the kick off a penalty was awarded from the previous event, the kick to touch which saw Ryton again in the Billingham half and knocking on the door. Billingham defended well covering the full field from side to side, and when the chance came, lit the blue touch paper as Alfie cranked up the after burners to go the full length of the pitch (Radwan Style!).
Another kick of Luke was despatched for 40 – 5.
There was still time for Ryton to launch attacks but the Billingham defence held firm until the final whistle. Who needs a firework display when you watch a game like that followed up with the comfort and crack in the club house. Harvey was quite rightly man of the match as the usual after match festivities were undertaken.
So no time this week for photo montage, are crutches allowed on the AGP?, when I said head and shoulders!, who are the County players then?, Sirocco, lined hats, it’s all for the kids and more rugby content?
Individual commitment to a group effort – that’s what makes a team work, a society work, a civilization work. - Vince Lombardi