PRUDHOE and Stocksfield made their longest journey of the season on Saturday as they travelled Richmondshire in the Durham & Northumberland League Division Three.

And a thrilling encounter ensued, with the unfortunate P&S missing a last ditch penalty to lose the game 29-28.

But there were many positives to be taken from a match in which they demonstrated some superb attacking play, while Steven Henderson kicked four conversions.

The hosts had endured an indifferent start to the season, but with their close proximity to Catterick Garrison, they always provide a tough opposition.

A strong squad of 19 made the trip, with Matty Nevin moving from 14 to the blindside flank and Andy Marsh slotting into a strong looking replacements bench.

Richmondshire started the game powerfully and came at P&S with a direct approach. Strong carries around the guard position of the breakdown were being resolutely defended by an organised visiting defence.

However, breakdown infringements were their Achilles heel, as it enabled the hosts the opportunity to move upfield quickly. From this platform, Richmond got the first score of the day as their imposing number eight drove his way over after some patient pick and go moves, to make it 5-0.

As has been the case in all fixtures this season, P&S seemed unfazed by the concession of the first try and began playing the attacking rugby that has seen the team become one of the top scorers in the league.

With the front five showing desire to get hands on the ball and the backrow interlinking with a speedy backline, it wasn’t long before P&S took the lead.

A quick ball was won in midfield before Henderson delayed his pass perfectly to send Luke Masters through the centres. He showed the fullback a clean pair of heels as he won the foot race to score a superb try.

Confidence was oozing out of the P&S side who again charged downfield with man of the match Alex Fitton and Adam Murphy at the fore.

Having worked on intensity and body angles in attack at training, it was great to see both putting that into action as they continually made inroads into Richmondshire territory.

The next try was a lesson in patience as Yannick Debil eventually found the space to saunter in. After many phases of tying in the opposition, he took the ball at first receiver and had enough strength to brush off the would-be defender to give P&S a 14-5 advantage.

Richmondshire, buoyed on by an expectant crowd at Theakston Lane, were struggling to find their way through.

Despite this, the impressive home fullback made big yards when given the chance and was causing problems out wide for Chris Nicholls and John Robson.

However, Richmondshire’s second try came from a poor line-out throw. It completely missed the jumper, only for the back man to pounce and slide over for 14-10.

P&S Played uphill in the second half as the pitch started to cut up. They continued attacking the fringes, and Will Foster extended the lead by barging over from close range.

Henderson continued his impressive kicking record to give the visitors a 21-10 lead.

Rob Reid and Ryan Chamberlain, both of whom are influential members of the pack, were soon forced off with injuries which slowed the momentum and allowed Richmondshire the opportunity to reply.

The home 10 sent the ball downfield before gathering and scoring to keep themselves in touching distance at 21-15.

Andy Marsh, now playing as the little and large combination with Fitton in the second row, used his ability to avoid getting tackled to squeeze through some legs and stretch to the line, again which was converted to secure the bonus point.

In the final 10 minutes, Richmondshire began to dominate the breakdown and attack with pace and scored two quick tries, both of which were converted to give the home side the lead for the first time since the fifth minute.

P&S won a penalty with the last play of the game just inside the Richmondshire half. Henderson had the opportunity to win the game but with the kick being on the limit of his distance, the ball fell agonisingly short, as P&S lost by a single point. The two sides will meet again, at Stocksfield, in February. Next up for P&S is an away trip to Redcar on Saturday.

Chris Patterson