Tynedale 18, Luctonians 10

AFTER two successive heavy defeats, Tynedale finally opened their National League Division Two North account on Saturday with a hard earned win over Luctonians.

The Herefordshire side are Tynedale’s most distant opponents, and must have fancied their chances after leading at half time. However, the 600-mile round trip back to cider country must have been tough one as they went home without even a losing bonus point.

The two packs were well matched, with Tynedale not winning the forward battle until close to the end. The Tynedale front row had a new look, with regular hooker Dave Batey switching to loose head prop, to accommodate dual registered Newcastle Falcons pair Ollie Fletcher at hooker, and Oscar Caudle at tight head.

Locks Chris Wearmouth and Graeme Dunn are knocking on the door of veteranship now, but both put in a towering shift, with Wearmouth in particular doing well, despite being left in a crumpled heap on the turf on more than one occasion.

Jonny Cousin and Ben Bell also impressed in the back row, along with newcomer from Carlisle, Henry Wainwright

The backs were given little chance to shine, apart from occasional flashes from the likes of Will Miller and Guy Pike, but there was another polished display from Polish international full back Ross Cooke.

It was Cooke who gave Tynedale an early 6-0 lead, with penalties in the 11th and 20th minutes, as Tynedale dominated territorially, without ever threatening the Lucs line.

Lucs hit back after 23 minutes with a penalty from scrum half Owen Randell and then it was Tynedale on the back foot.

The visitors took the lead shortly before the break when centre Ben Owen touched down under the posts after a clever kick through. Randell converted to give the visitors a 10-6 advantage at the interval.

Lucs should have increased their lead early in the second half when a sloppy pass gave them possession on the right wing, but strong Tynedale defence kept them at bay until a penalty was conceded when the visitors were well positioned.

Having weathered the storm, Tynedale began to put some decent passages of play together and began to dominate possession. With the Lucs line under pressure the visitors lost replacement Brad Smith to the sin bin.

Several times Tynedale were over the line but unable to ground the ball from a series of powerful forward drives, but on 65 minutes, half the team joined the back of the drive, and Caudle twisted over to score near the posts, for Cooke to convert for a 13-10 lead.

It was a slender advantage, but Tynedale kept their cool, and deep into injury time, a five metre scrum took Tynedale over again. Wainwright led the surge, but the final touch was applied by Pike.

Tynedale are off to the Black Country on Saturday, where they face another tough test against Stourbridge, who have won all three of their opening games to lie second in the table.