PRUDHOE and Stocksfield had a strong squad available for the visit of Newton Aycliffe.

But they were unable to make the most of lengthy spells of possession, and lost the Northern Division Three fixture 17-3.

Alex Fitton returned to the starting XV having missed the previous week’s visit of Yarm, to start alongside David Rodgers in the second row.

John Robson continued in the back row after his mid-season positional change as he looked to bring his physicality to the fore. In the back line, Joe Hughes and Luke Masters lined up in the centre with Tom Burges-Lumsden handed the number 14 shirt.

Playing downhill in the first half, P&S began to test Newton Aycliffe across the pitch. Strong carries from Yannick Debil and Fitton provided quick ball for the backs to exploit.

However, unforced errors stemmed the flow allowing Newton Aycliffe the opportunity to clear.

P&S were then dealt a blow when Robson, who had started the game confidently, had to leave the field with an arm injury which will keep him out of action for several weeks.

His replacement, Brogan Millar, was straight into the action with his enthusiastic carries and support lines providing a constant threat. From one of those attacks, P&S took the lead when Steven Henderson converted a penalty to make it 3-0.

Newton Aycliffe came back forcefully and good handling in the ruck enabled their fly half to level the game at 3-3.

The home side then gifted the lead to the visitors as an interception pass on half way by the Aycliffe winger saw him gallop up the hill to give Aycliffe a 10-3 lead.

Will Foster and his front row colleagues demonstrated their strength, especially at the scrum, as Newton Aycliffe were pushed back on numerous occasions, with Stephen Armstrong often striking against the head.

This set the platform for the final 10 minutes of the half as P&S were camped within five metres of the try line.

Having opted for the scrum after the visitors had infringed, P&S looked set to walk the ball over. But the scrum was reset on four occasions before a verbal discretion allowed Newton Aycliffe off the hook, and they led 10-3 at the break.

Aycliffe had shown that they were dogged in defence, strong in the tackle and also offered a threat in attack with strong runners. None more so than their numbers seven and eight, who both proved difficult to stop.

They extended their lead after both players combined having broke through many attempted tackles. Attacking from deep after drifting to his more usual spot in the centres, the visiting eight burst through contact before feeding the supporting seven to score for 17-3.

As they did in the first half, P&S returned into Aycliffe territory looking to get back into the game. Willing runners offered some attacking promise but strong defence repelled attack after attack, despite a yellow card to the visiting prop.

The hosts threw all they had at Newton Aycliffe, but the visitors stood firm to secure the victory. P&S were in the game for the most part, but the lack of a clinical touch proved vital.

Hughes was awarded man of the match after he provided a vital pivot in attack for P&S, and also carried out sterling defensive work.

P&S, who are seventh in the league, are next in action on Saturday, February 1.