LEAGUE leaders Hull Ionians proved a little bit too strong for Tynedale as they rounded off 2018 with a defeat.

But the visitors certainly gave the Humbersiders something to think about as they staged a grandstand finish to outscore their hosts in the second half.

Tynedale ran in five tries, two of them from rugged lock Chris Wearmouth, to clinch a bonus point, and were within a whisker of claiming a losing bonus point too.

The first game between the sides at Corbridge in September saw Ionians register 50 points, and the fact that this game was so much closer shows how Tynedale have progressed in the first half of the season under director of rugby Ben Woods.

The defeat saw Tynedale slip back to 13th in National League Division Two North, uncomfortably close to the drop zone, as both Leicester Lions and Stourbridge had bonus point wins to leapfrog the Blue and Whites. However, Tynedale do have a game in hand following the postponement of the home fixture against bottom club Peterborough Lions.

Tynedale were again without leading try scorer Morgan Passman, with Ben Beaumont taking the number 14 shirt, and Jake Rodgers slotting in at full back.

Another notable absentee was number eight Joe Mills, so the back row comprised regular locks Graeme Dunn and Jonny Cousin, along with Ben Bell.

Tynedale began brightly against a team which had lost their last game, and stormed into the lead in the 12th minute when the redoubtable Wearmouth forced his way over following a series of scrums close to the Ionians line. Fly half Rob Parker was unable to add the extras.

Stung into action, Ionians hit back virtually straight from the restart, with lock James Newman going over for an unconverted try just two minutes later.

Hull went in front on 19 minutes when Billy Hardy burst through to launch fellow centre Lewis Minikin on a 60m dash to the line. Minikin converted his own try for 12-5 lead and repeated the double five minutes later following good work from the Hull pack.

Tynedale came roaring back when the excellent Beaumont danced through several tackles to touch down, and Parker’s conversion made it 19-12. Ionians pulled clear again just before the break, when a powerful run from right wing Sam Wilson earned a try for scrum half Sam Crane to give the home side a 26-12 half time lead.

Ionians began the second half in dominant fashion, with flanker James Sanderson crossing on 46 minutes for an unconverted try, before hooker Ben Stephenson went over on the hour, Minikin converting for an impressive 38-12 scoreline

But Tynedale refused to lie down and got back into the game when centre Guy Pike darted in on 70 minutes for the third try. Ionians were reduced to 14 men when replacement Morgan Bunting was yellow carded on 72 minutes and, from the penalty, Wearmouth barged his way over for the bonus point try, converted by Parker for 38-24.

There was still time for replacement Joe Richards to grab a fifth try, putting a second bonus point within reach, but Parker was unable to convert.

Tynedale begin the new year at home to Stourbridge on January 5.