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Winlaton Vulcans 12 Bishop Auckland 18

Bishop were away to Winlaton in this cup semi-final match. Anybody that has ever played at Winlaton will know that the wind always blows at the top of that hill and Saturday's game was no different. The conditions effectively made this a game of two halves.

Bishop started the game playing into the wind and the opening quarter saw the Bishop forwards dominating possession and making good ground into the Winlaton half. However Winlaton's full back used his boot to fine effect and was able to kick away any danger. The game proceeded in the same manner, hard work by the forwards with ground won then the ball kicked back over their heads. Winlaton got a penalty for Bishop being offside; 3-0 which was quickly cancelled out by a penalty well taken by Tom Burn who drilled the ball low over the posts 3-3. Both kickers continued to trade penalties; 6-6.

Bishop then brought their backs into play and put together some nice phases of play which nearly resulted in a try for winger Mark Fairley only to be put into touch just short of the line. Bishop's line out worked well with some accurate ball from hooker Andrew Reilly and some fine takes from Kieran Hutchinson giving a solid platform for Bishop's backs but the Winlaton defence remained resolute. Bishop conceded a penalty inside Winlaton's half which the fullback kicked and took the points; 9-6. Winlaton then got a further penalty inside Bishop's half which was again well taken by the Winlaton full back to take the score 12-6 at half time. Defensively, Bishop coped well with the Winlaton backs and they did not look like breaching the Bishop line, with Tom Burn and Drew Gilbert communicating effectively across the line

In the second half Bishop had the wind in their favour and penned Winlaton in their half. From a scrum Bishop gained good yards and then prop Alex Fraser broke through with the ball to score the try 12-11. Bishop now had their tails up and dominated possession and territory looking for any gaps. Winlaton were unable to clear like they did in the first half and it was inevitable that Bishop were going to score again and they did from another scrum with scrum half Josh Richardson claiming the try which was converted by Tom Burn 12-18.

Winlaton never really threatened the Bishop line and Bishop were content to slow the ball up and see out the game without any further score.

This was a workmanlike performance from Bishop, they have played better but with this being a cup game the result was all important.

Michael Hole 6 Apr 11

U14s Play Darlington at Home

Bishop Auckland U14s 14 Darlington U14s 17

Bishop Auckland Under 14s met Darlington for the first time in more than two years in this match at West Mills. With all the regular front row unavailable, Lewis Cooper, Nathan Matthews and Matthew Mitchell stepped up to the plate.

Bishop were slow to find their form in the first half and were outfought in the rucks and mauls by an enthusiastic Darlington side who scored two tries. Michael Walton, playing again at stand-off slotted comfortably into the position. Josh Leonard was always evident in the loose play winning plenty of ball.

In the second half, Bishop played much better. James Pirie and Tyler Claydon energised and the forwards and the backs played with more freedom. Macaulay Barker made a number of breaks and Liam Higgins made a searing run from full-back. Darlington were able to increase their lead with a converted try, but for the rest of the match it was all Bishop. Lloyd Purser made a break through the middle and when he was stopped, Ben Hoggart was on his shoulder to score the try. Claydon added the conversion. Aiden Mounsey was making numerous tackles to snuff out any Darlington attacks. Barker was then unlucky not to score when chasing a kick through, he collected the ball, but fine work from the Darlington winger saw him held up over the line. Purser then narrowed the gap with a solo effort, with Claydons kick reducing the gap to 3 points. There was not enough time though for Bishop to complete the comeback and they had to be satisfied with a narrow defeat.

Team: Lewis Cooper, Nathan Matthews, Matty Borrowdale, Matthew Mitchell, Ben Hoggart, James Pirie, Curtis Hall, Aiden Mounsey, Josh Leonard, Rob Hill, Sam McIvor, Tyler Claydon, Lloyd Purser, Anth Young, Macaulay Barker, Liam Higgins, Michael Walton, Jordan Topping, Josh Brown, Alex

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