A STRONG Tynedale second string made a rip-roaring start to 2020 with a comprehensive home victory over Billingham Lions.

Tynedale Raiders were boosted by the return of several key players for the Candy League Division One fixture.

That meant the hosts were able to field their strongest backline of the season so far, and it provided the perfect platform for the resounding 54-5 victory.

Tynedale kicked off on a superb playing surface for the time of year, in dry conditions.

The early exchanges saw some good hard running and strong tacking from both sets of players.

Tynedale were able to dominate territory with the wind at their backs. On eight minutes, following some excellent running lines and neat off-loading, the impressive John Clarkson took the scoring pass and dived between the posts for half back partner Rob Parker to convert, for 7-0.

Billingham then had their best spell of the match and spent the next 10 minutes hammering away at the Tynedale defence. Only a series of last ditch tackles and excellent turnovers denied them a score.

On 20 minutes, Tynedale played their way up the field and James Clark, looking very comfortable at full back, glided through a gap to score, with Parker again converting for a 14-0 advantage.

Billingham continued to play with great intent and spirit, but were unable to make their possession and pressure count.

Just before the half, Tom Bramwell, who had a fine game in the centre, cut a neat line to cross for Tynedale’s third converted score, making it 21-0 at half time.

Playing into the breeze in the second half, Tynedale demonstrated their commitment to running rugby with ball in hand.

They soon extended their lead when Clarkson made a neat blindside break and fed Alex Dryden to run in from half-way, which was again converted by Parker for 28-0.

The Raiders then went on to score a further four tries, three of which were converted by the reliable boot of Parker.

These came via another half-length solo score from Dryden, who went on to complete his hat-trick from a Parker break, before running in his fourth try from a nicely weighted kick ahead by Clark.

Tynedale’s scoring was completed by Clark himself after another fine break from Bramwell.

To Billingham’s credit, the Lions never gave up. There were a number of fine performances in the Tynedale ranks, but the industrious Tom McCullough was named man of the match.

The Raiders travel to Percy Park on Saturday.