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Late try ends Blaydon's promotion hopes
BLAYDON'S slender hopes of staying in the promotion frame in National One were extinguished by a controversial late try at Ealing Trailfinders.
Having beaten the leaders by one point at Crow Trees, they lost 12-11 after a tremendous effort by the forwards in appalling conditions.
Blaydon felt they should have been awarded a 22 drop-out when one of their players caught a kick with his foot over the try line, but the touch judge ruled he had carried it over and Ealing scored the winning try from the five-metre scrum.
Although the pitch had survived a 7am inspection prior to Blaydon's departure on the 8am train, it proved to be a quagmire and with light snow falling it was no day for running rugby.
With the wind behind them, Blaydon dominated the first half and built an early 6-0 lead through two penalties by Andrew Baggett on his return from injury. The first was a superb effort from 45 metres.
On a rare escape from their own half, Ealing went ahead when they stole Blaydon's line-out ball and the scrum half wriggled over.
But Blaydon went back in front when the pack kept driving forward, reaching the line for scrum half Andrew Davies to touch down.
In the second half, however, they spent the first 25 minutes defending in their 22. They appeared to have weathered the storm and the forwards worked their way almost to the posts, only to be penalised. Ealing cleared and kept the pressure on for the crucial try.
Tynedale eased their relegation fears with a 20-15 home win against Richmond, despite having lock Joe Robinson sent off for punching after
They were down to 13 men for the last ten minutes after hooker George McGuigan was sin-binned, but hung on heroically.
Tynedale trailed 8-5 when Robinson was dismissed, but added to centre Tom Bramwell's try with further scores from winger Alex Fieldhouse and full back Chris Harris. A conversion by Matty Outson put them 17-8 ahead and he also landed a penalty after Richmond had narrowed the gap to two points with a converted try.
Westoe kept their survival hopes alive in National Two North as they continued their resurgence with a 19-17 home win against Bromsgrove.
They defied the bitter wind by relying on forward power, with No 8 Scott Powell to the fore as their three tries came from driving mauls.
Powell and back row colleague Joe McKenzie touched down in the first half with Matt Mellish adding the conversions for a 14-7 lead. A Bromsgrove try cut the deficit to two before home skipper Gareth Nesbit got the crucial score.
Many games were postponed at lower levels, in some cases because of travelling difficulties, although Percy Park managed to get to Kendal for a 34-13 win in National Three North.
The top-of-the-table battle was won 15-7 by Harrogate, who moved four points clear of long-time leaders Chester.
In the only match played in North One East Middlesbrough won 26-3 at Durham City to move ahead of relegation rivals Keighley on points difference. The West Yorkshire club have four games left and Boro three.
The four-try bonus was vital for Boro and they scored two in each half before easing off and falling back on defence for the last 20 minutes.
All the tries came from backs with wingers Josh Evans and Rhys Kilbride finishing good moves, while fly half Simon O'Farrell cut through the middle to score and centre Rob Bellerby touched down on his return from injury.
O'Farrell converted the first try from wide on the left but then handed over to Jack Bircham, who landed two out of three.
Stockton bounced back into third place in Durham and Northumberland One, overhauling Gateshead and Medicals courtesy of a 23-13 win at Ryton.
Tries from hooker Ben Cordiner, lock Jonny Cheetham, emergency centre Si Crozier and No 8 Phil Douglas, plus a Jeremy Good penalty, brought home the five points.
Gateshead's 16-15 home defeat by leaders Alnwick ended their hopes of claiming the promotion play-off place, which has been all but secured by Guisborough. They won 46-5 at Sunderland, who have lost all 21 games this season.