Otley 16 Tynedale 13

TYNEDALE began the New Year by crashing to their fifth defeat on the bounce on Saturday, when they went down fighting at Otley.

The two Northern rivals are very well matched, with the reverse fixture in September ending in a 34-34 draw.

And this one could well have ended all square too, for in the dying second of a pulsating game, Tynedale were awarded an eminently kickable penalty which would have brought to scores level.

Boldly though, they opted for the kick to touch five metres out, in a bid to win the game with a try.

Sadly it was not to be, with the line-out coming to nothing, and Tynedale having to be content with a losing bonus point to slip still further down the National League Division Two North table.

They are down to 11th and while there is little immediate cause for alarm, they have a couple of tough games coming up. They face third placed Sedgley Tigers this Saturday followed by second placed Fylde away.

Tynedale welcomed back Jake Rodgers at fly half, and he had an impressive game, setting up Tyndale’s only try, and scoring the rest of their points with his boot.

There was also the first start since the autumn for centre Liam Checksfield, but there were too many errors by the visitors. There was lots of huffing and puffing, particularly in the second half, but the cutting edge was absent.

Their cause was also hampered by picking up two yellow cards in the first half, Checksfield sent to the naughty step on 16 minutes, followed by right wing Seamus Hutton on the stroke of half time.

Tynedale were seldom out of their own half in the opening 40 minutes, as Otley did all the pressing. They could have scored in the opening two minutes, but a forward pass let Tynedale off the hook.

Despite the Otley pressure, it was Tynedale who took the lead on 10 minutes with their first attack, when a well-judged crossfield kick by Rodgers was snapped up by 18-year-old Hutton, who finished superbly, Rodgers converted.

Fly half Ben Smith opened Otley’s account on 22 minutes with a penalty, but Rodgers restored Tynedale’s lead from the tee 10 minutes later when the hosts failed to release the ball in the tackle.

Try scorer Hutton blotted his copybook when a deliberate knock-on cost him 10 minutes in the sin bin, and Smith’s penalty made it 10-6 to Tynedale at the break.

Tynedale extended their lead on 44 minutes when Rodgers grabbed his second penalty when Otley were offside, but former Tynedale favourite Joe Graham then came off the replacements’ bench to haunt his old colleagues.

The hooker made a telling break before sending in full back Ben Magee for a try on 58 minutes to narrow the gap to two points.

And Tynedale fell behind straight from the restart, when an attempted clearance slammed into the legs of the Otley chasers, and a kindly bounce allowed centre Elliott Morgan to hack through and touch down on the hour for what proved to be the winning score.

Tynedale battled hard to get back into it for the remaining 20 minutes, with some good positional kicking, but a combination of stout Otley defence, and line-out woes kept Tynedale at bay.

Then came the last minute penalty which would have secured an honourable draw, but it was not to be.

Tynedale entertain Sedgley Tigers on Saturday, hoping for a repeat of the 12-7 victory they achieved in Manchester back in September. The game at Tynedale Park kicks off at 2pm.