8:00am Monday 3rd March 2014
By Tim Wellock
BEN Frankland continued his remarkable run of scoring for Tynedale as they stepped up their great escape in National One with a 27-5 home win against high-flying Esher.
The Corbridge men looked doomed after conceding 50 points at Blaydon just before Christmas, but have won six out of eight since the turn of the year.
Centre Frankland has scored the bulk of his 14 tries during that run, grabbing a brace on Saturday through his habit of adding his former back row expertise to rolling mauls.
Tynedale have to visit second-placed Rosslyn Park this week, but on current form will expect to win more than they lose after that and should stay clear of trouble.
The recent return from injury of former Durham University No 8 Harrison Collins has given a further boost to the big improvement in the forwards, with New Zealander Daniel Temm also starring in the back row.
Frankland finished a forward drive after 11 minutes, but it needed a Gavin Beasley penalty on the stroke of half-time to earn an 8-0 interval lead and Esher scored a good try shortly afterwards.
Tynedale improved and slick handling sent winger Sep Visser over before they secured the four-try bonus point with two in the last ten minutes.
Beasley slipped through a gap to score under the posts and he added his second conversion when Frankland finished another drive two minutes from time.
Blaydon dominated the game away to leaders Doncaster, but lost 24-19 against a side who took all four of their scoring chances.
They capitalised on Blaydon errors for their first two tries and somehow built a 19-0 lead before visiting No 8 Jason Smithson finished a drive just before half-time.
He was adamant he had scored again on the resumption, and prop James Hallam also claimed to have got the ball down. But on both occasions the referee was unsighted.
With lock Sean English starring in the absence of skipper Keith Laughlin, who had a hand operation on Friday, Blaydon spent most of the second half in Doncaster's 22.
But the hosts broke out for a fourth try before Zack Kibirige found an extra gear to score shortly before retiring through injury when Blaydon had used all their replacements. They played the last 20 minutes with 14 men but reduced the gap further when Smithson scored again and Andrew Baggett added his second conversion.
The three North East teams in National Three North continue to occupy the three places just outside the relegation zone, but Westoe climbed above hosts Billingham with a 26-10 win.
Dean Holliday scored two tries and Andrew Lawson one, with Matt Mellish adding three penalties and a conversion. Joe Evans and Craig Shepherd scored for Billingham.
A late try by James Ponton, converted by Todd Harrison, eased Percy Park's worries as it gave them maximum points in a 24-17 win away to bottom club Penrith.
Middlesbrough slipped deeper into the mire in North One East when they lost 34-20 away to the only team below them, Sheffield.
Mistakes let the hosts in for two converted tries as they built a 17-3 lead before lock Phil Harland scored for Boro in the 38th minute, converted by Jack Bircham. But Sheffield hit straight back with another try.
Winger Adam Nolson gave Boro hope with a try which cut the gap to 22-15, only for Sheffield to score two tries in quick succession.
Centre Richard Metcalfe grabbed Boro's third.
West Hartlepool scored three tries in each half in a 34-15 home win against Wheatley Hills. The first two were from tap penalties, Adam Coates and Michael Hogan crashing over, while a good move was finished by Ian Pinchen dummying over for the third.
The lead was quickly stretched to 29-3. Winger Peter Youll received the ball on halfway and beat his opposite number to race over, then Jonny Boatman finished off good work by Liam Bailey.
In a penalty-strewn game both sides received two yellow cards and West's reduced them to 13 men at one point, allowing the visitors back into the game until Boatman scored his second try.
Durham and Northumberland One leaders Horden lost 27-17 at Medicals but still have an 11-point lead after second-placed Blyth lost 44-22 at home to Durham City.
Only two points cover four clubs in the battle for the play-off spot with City moving level with Blyth, with Darlington and Guisborough just behind.
Darlington won an entertaining game 35-30 at Gosforth after conceding two early tries because of the awkward bounce on the artificial pitch.
Prop Joe Hargreaves scored two of the five tries and No 8 Colin Rogers played well, but the backs played their part with some good handling and Sam Hardy scored an excellent try.
Mark Baldwin kicked a penalty and conversion and his brother Nick did likewise after going on from the bench.
Stockton forced a deserved draw against a lively Novos side with the last play of a tense game.
Jeremy Good kicked two penalties either side of two Novos tries for the visitors to lead to 12-6 at half time. Stockton went ahead briefly after scrum half Brian Thwaites scampered over wide out and Good added another penalty.
But Novos scored two more tries to lead 26-14 before Stockton showed great character to fight back. Flanker Tom Nelson scored a try, which Good converted from the touchline, then one in the dying seconds returning prop Ben D'Cunha crossed to level the scores.
Bishop Auckland lost 38-20 at home to Gateshead, whose backs ran through at will in the first half to lead 33-3. Bishops changed things around and improved dramatically with No 8 Mike Ross outstanding in a strong performance by the pack.
He scored a try, the others coming from 17-year-old flanker Leon Keirl and 18-year-old Josh Pagan after switching from wing to centre.
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