TOUGH TEST: Flanker Joe Gibbons canters over the line to score to the delight of Sam Watson who also scored and was named man of the match.
TOUGH TEST: Flanker Joe Gibbons canters over the line to score to the delight of Sam Watson who also scored and was named man of the match.


Barnard Castle .................... 38

Houghton............................ 28

Having lost in a keenly contested encounter in the away fixture earlier in the season Castle knew that they would be in for a tough test against fellow mid-table side Houghton.

Barney began well and enjoyed most of the possession and territory in the opening 20 minutes with James Peareth and skipper Sam Bell prominent with impressive carrying. However, it was Houghton who were to bag the first try as a period of pressure on the Castle line was rewarded with the score to give them an early lead, 0-7.

Barney were quick to hit back with a Ralph Makepeace penalty and then they took the lead through young flanker Joe Gibbons who ripped the ball from the grasp of a Houghton forward and cantered over for the try. With the successful conversion the lead grew to 10-7.

With Barney beginning to exert pressure, a lovely show and go saw young centre Sam Watson claim an impressive try and another successful conversion saw the lead extend to 17-7.

As half time approached there was still time for Castle to score again as Ben Parker ran strongly from inside the Barney half and offloaded to Jack Tobbell who steamed in for the try from half-way rounding the Houghton full-back along the way. Once again, the conversion was successful and Barney were able to take a 24-7 lead into the break thanks to a brilliant try-saving tackle by Ben Parker as the half-time whistle was about to sound.

As the second half began Barney held a comfortable lead and appeared to be coasting to victory, but they were soon disrupted by the loss of Rees Doyle and Robbie Lavin to injury and a player to the sin-bin for a high tackle and Houghton took full advantage with a converted try to narrow the gap to 24-14 following a series of penalties.

As the half progressed Castle were increasingly penalised for a range of offences and Houghton were able to convert pressure into points, firstly with a converted try to take the score to 24-21 and then as the game drew to a close another converted try to give them what appeared to be a winning lead.

With very little time remaining Barney were desperate to save the game and they were rewarded as Houghton tried to clear their lines and a brilliant charge down by Ben Parker enabled him to gather the ball and run in for the try. The conversion gave Barney a narrow lead at 31-28.

With the referee indicating that there was only a minute remaining Houghton went in search of a late win, but the ball was spilled and replacement Tom Steen ran most of the length of the pitch for a final try. With Ralph Makepeace again successful with the conversion the final score stood at 38-28.

The opposition nominated young Sam Watson as man of the match for a fine all-round display. The club would like to thank Harper Developments and Clarke International for their very generous sponsorship.

There is no game this weekend and next week sees the final league game of the season away at Whitby.

On Saturday, April 13, Barney host Bramley Phoenix in the Papa John National Cup and are hoping for as many former players as possible to come to support the team and raise a glass or two.

Nick Raper