South Shields made their longest trip of the season on Saturday to North Yorkshire side Richmondshire – but it was a happy journey home after a 12-3 victory.
In horrendous conditions, Shields won the toss and opted to go up hill into the strong wind. This paid dividends as the Hedworth Hall-sponsored side defended very well, only conceding three points from a penalty.
Clayton Fox and Martin Bengston were immaculate in defence and Richmondshire began to grow frustrated, giving away penalties for foul play. This resulted in their scrum-half being shown a yellow card.
The second half was a whole different story with Shields going down the slope with the advantage of the strong wind in their side.
Aaron Arkley and Jonah McIntyre both kicked very well, pinning Shire in their 22 which was where they spent the majority of the half.
Richmondshire were excellent in defence with their back row in particular stealing ball on a number of occasions when Shields attacked in ones, much to the frustration of Shields coach Stu Robson.
As the weather worsened and the rain came down, the handling from both teams was really affected. The ball was being dropped at the pass and knocked on at the breakdown and time was beginning to run out for promotion-chasing South Shields.
The Shields forwards upped their game and locks Dan McKay and Louis Kellett carried the ball very well as the away side made sure they kept the ball.
The ill-discipline of Shire resulted in a number of continuous penalties with Shields kicking for touch and mauling down the slope.
Richmondshire struggled to deal with the effective maul and an illegal collapse resulted in a second home player being sent to the bin. This seemed to really give Shields the boost they needed.
South Shields found themselves 10 metres from the try line and skipper Fox opted for a scrum. Matty Thornton hooked and Shields dominated, marching forward.
Shire failed to adapt legally and the match official rightfully awarded a penalty try which Aaron Arkley converted.
Shields went on to add another try shortly after when Nathan Thompson perfected a cute box kick which Oscar Chilton, on his competitive debut for the 1st XV, touched down. Chilton came in just five minutes from kick off when Alex Welland pulled up with a hamstring injury during the warm up.
Jordan Wright was shown a yellow card for a late tackle minutes from time but Shields saw out the clock and came away with the points, with the final score 12-3.
Meanwhile, South Shields Mariners narrowly lost (35-30) on the pitch adjacent against Richmondshire II after conceding a try in the final moments.