Tynedale 20 Hinckley 15

A THUNDEROUS slog in the mud between two well-matched teams provided a tasty treat for the hardy souls who braved a dreich Corbridge on Saturday.

The Leicestershire side had never lost a game at Corbridge on three previous visits, with two wins and a draw, and this was a game which could have gone either way.

Hinckley almost never got to Tynedale Park, as their team bus broke down at Washington services on the way north, and they were fortunate to flag down a passing minibus driver who brought them to Corbridge.

There, they made a full contribution to an excellent game played in appalling conditions, by the end of which it was just about impossible to distinguish between the blue and white hoops of Tynedale and the black and gold of Hinckley.

Conditions were so bad that even referee Michael Harris struggled to keep his feet, and found himself bowled over by rampaging forwards at one stage.

Tynedale were hit by a number of injuries, with prop Ben Haigh, lock Chris Wearmouth and full back Rob Parker all out. Haigh’s absence meant a start in the front row for 19-year-old Oscar Caudle, but teenage scrum half Callum Pascoe dropped to the bench to allow skipper Matty Outson to move to scrum half, with the number 10 shirt going to Jake Rodgers.

The first 20 minutes was all Tynedale, as they dominated possession through strong forward play, and they built up an impressive 12-0 lead.

A good box kick by Outson led to a line-out at which Tynedale stole Hinckley ball, and rumbled over the line, only for the ball to be held up.

Hinckley wilted under the pressure, and gave away a couple of penalty scrums, from one of which the ball was whipped wide for 18-year-old Seamus Hutton to go over in the corner with eight minutes gone.

Rodgers was unable to convert, but Tynedale retained the whip hand with Hutton only denied a second try when another Outson chip stuck in the mud rather than bouncing into his arms. The pressure was maintained though, and moments later lock Harry Snowdon was sliding in for a rare try, which Rodgers did convert for a 12-0 lead with 16 minutes gone.

Hinckley came back well though, as they kept the ball alive despite some powerful Tynedale tackling and full back Rory Vowles crossed for a well worked try on 25 minutes.

Now it was Tynedale’s turn to be on the defensive against sustained pressure, and they were unable to resist a pushover try for number eight Alex Salt on 33 minutes, fly half Tom Wheatcroft’s conversion bringing the scores level.

Hinckley lost flanker Jamie Skerrit to a yellow card on 37 minutes, but Tynedale were unable to make their extra man count.

Tynedale welcomed back hooker David Batey at half time after surgery on his arm, and while his throwing was a little awry at the first couple of line-outs, he soon found his range.

It was Hinckley who took the lead on 58 minutes when Wheatcroft landed a penalty, but Rodgers replied from in front of the posts 10 minutes later to make it 15-15.

With seven minutes left, a fine handling move across the pitch had the crowd on its feet. Hutton appeared to have been tackled into touch, but kept the ball alive, and the momentum created saw centre Miller go over for the winning try.