STEALING THE BALL: Stockton were masters at ripping the ball in the tackle during their match against Barney  							                 Pic: Chris Morse
STEALING THE BALL: Stockton were masters at ripping the ball in the tackle during their match against Barney Pic: Chris Morse


Stockton................... 50

Barnard Castle............8

ANOTHER step forward for this young Castle side who held Stockton well for much of the game but suffered from one or two unforced errors and, once more, the loss of three players to yellow cards.

Again the lineout was poetry in motion with hooker Matthew Raper finding his jumpers unerringly and fine distribution to either scrum-half Ali Johnston or to the driving forwards often in the form of prop Marty Lonsdale.

The scrum with Lonsdale moving up into the front row and Danny Souter returning from a lengthy break seemed far more secure and as a result Barney were able to obtain an ample supply of ball at the breakdown, with Tom Marston picking up well at eight and doing well at lineout time.

In the backline, the team were grateful to Matthew Morrison for stepping in at inside centre to help fill a hole, partnering Archie Thompson in the midfield who joined brother Henry who once more came into the side to help in both the back row and scrumhalf slot when needed.

The rest of the back row of John Hunter, John Lumsdon and Cammy Young worked tigerishly all afternoon to keep Stockton at bay.

Castle started well and were soon pressing onto the visitors’ line and were unlucky when after a rolling maul from a lineout, the ball was assessed as held up over the Stockton line.

More pressure was applied though and it wasn’t long before lock Jack Worley stepped up to pot a penalty goal.

Gradually the visitors who have inhabited the upper positions in the league all season found their feet and applied some of their own pressure on the Barney team.

The visitors grabbed their first try from a Barney error but then high quality play saw them add two more.

Castle rallied but in their urgency to get back into their game, they gifted an interception try to Stockton who then led 3-26.

Once more Castle got into their straps and some lovely phases of play saw themcamped on the visitors’ line. They were unlucky that the ball was dislodged as Matthew Raper went over the line in the act of scoring.

Although Stockton grabbed another score before the break at 3-33, Castle felt they were still in the game provided they could cut out the mistakes.

The second half started brightly enough and although Castle lost Johnston to a yellow card the side still pressed forward and with Stockton yielding penalties, after a series of lineout drives Barney were unlucky once more to see a try for Lonsdale ruled out when the referee was unsighted. Undaunted though, Castle continued to attack and ultimately flyhalf George Welsby crashed over in the left hand corner for a thoroughly deserved team try.

From the restart kick, young flanker Cammy Young had a great break up the field. After 40 metres and facing the fullback he slowed while Johnston, back on the field, tried to get close enough for the pass.

The tackle was good though and although the ball was recycled the Stockton defence had time to reorganise.

Castle continued to throw the kitchen sink at Stockton with Lonsdale, James Peareth and Charles Garland all carrying well.

However, Stockton were masters of ripping the ball in the tackle and when they regained possession in a counterattack situation their back line was rapid enough to see Castle play the penalty, especially once Castle had lost two more players for somewhat harsh yellow card offences.

Dave Bottoms