Battling Bishops sunk by Smith’s last-gasp try

Darlington and Stockton Times: GOING OVER: Arnie Stevenson scores Durham's second try against Bishop Auckland GOING OVER: Arnie Stevenson scores Durham's second try against Bishop Auckland

WHEN a club in the ascendancy meets one in decline a keenly-fought game often ensues and it took a try three minutes from time to settle this one.

City are not the slickers of old, but they did produce some slick handling when it mattered for full back Rob Smith to squeeze over in the left corner.

The fact that they won the try-count 4-1 in a game in which they were often on the back foot underlined that they were the better finishers.

Most of Bishops’ attacks foundered because they tried one ambitious pass or offload too many and it was the boot of 21-year-old fly half Tim Tombling which looked like being decisive.

When his fourth wellstruck penalty levelled the scores with eight minutes left Bishops looked the more likely winners.

But just as when he had put them 13-12 in front they made a hash of dealing with the restart. On the first occasion they had a kick charged down and presented City centre Darren Witte with a try; this time they dropped the ball, allowing the visitors to apply the pressure which culminated in the winning score.

City are now coached by Mark Bedworth, who began his career with them before moving on to Mowden Park, Wharfedale and Westoe, where his playing days were prematurely ended by a knee injury.

Following last year’s relegation, he inspired City to three high-scoring wins at the start of the season, including a 50-point tally against Darlington.

But they have faded since and needed this win to get back on track.

For Bishops, a narrow defeat against what has traditionally been a much more prestigious club will not hinder the progress of their vibrant set-up, which now features boys and girls teams from toddlers upwards. They call their under sixes the BLTs (Bishops’ Little Triers).

The 15 triers seeking a precious scalp on Saturday were well on top for the first ten minutes. They should have scored an early try when impressive centre Lawrence Oliver broke strongly, but the final pass went astray.

When City finally got into the home 22 powerful fly half Arnie Stevenson offloaded well for centre Will Kirtley to score.

Bishops’ only try was a gift.

Tombling had kicked to the left corner and when City took a quick throw-in the ball went loose and home centre Tom Burn picked up to score.

The conversion gave them a 26th-minute lead, but City were quickly back in front when they battered at the line before Stevenson dummied his way over by the posts and converted.

Tombling struck from 45 metres to reduce the half-time deficit to 12-10 and the home pack began the second half by driving two mauls almost to the line.

City sent on Tom Hodgson at fly half but he had been on only five minutes when he was sin-binned for what was deemed a dangerous tackle on a player who ducked into it, allowing Tombling to nudge Bishops ahead.

Then came Witte’s converted try, but with Bishops enjoying massive scrum dominance after sending on heavyweight veteran prop Paul Brooks they had every chance of winning.

Tombling’s third and fourth penalties drew them level, only for the dropped restart to scupper their chances.

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