THERE’S no stopping Tynedale try machine Ben Frankland. He’s the centre who joins the back of driving mauls to earn the touchdown and he grabbed two late tries on Saturday to clinch a thrilling 36-35 win at home to Coventry.
The victory eased Tynedale closer to survival in National One and Frankland took his try tally to 17, the bulk of them scored since the turn of the year, when the team looked doomed.
They also looked down and out when they trailed 32-17 with 25 minutes left on Saturday, but the grandstand finish culminated with Frankland finishing a 13-man drive two minutes from time.
Tynedale included two young forwards who began the season with Mowden Park in hooker David Nelson and lock Glen Young, and Nelson scored their first try, also from a forward drive.
Scrum half Greg Illingworth added an excellent solo try, but although Gavin Beasley kicked both conversions and a penalty Tynedale trailed 28-17 at the interval.
Third-placed Coventry went further ahead before the fightback was started with a try by winger Hamish Smales and capped by Frankland’s brace, Beasley adding two more conversions.
In the battle between two teams who had lost five on the trot, Blaydon won 37-13 at Wharfedale, who have slipped from fifth to the fringe of the relegation scrap.
The hosts led 10-8 after 25 minutes, but with the help of an improved line-out Blaydon always had the edge up front and they were much more committed in defence.
They drove lock Chris Wearmouth over for a try at a time when they were down to 14 men with Andy Davies in the sin-bin.
With the wind behind them in the second half they scored three tries through the backs, two of them through training ground moves with Andrew Baggett flipping the ball back inside for centre Tom Penny and full back Nathan Bailey to race over.
Penny scored in each half and there was also a try for winger Tom Grimes, set up by a perfect kick from halfway by Baggett, who added three conversions and two penalties.
Victory at home to second bottom Bradford and Bingley this week is essential for Billingham, who are only one point above the relegation zone in National Three North after losing 38-15 at home to Sale FC.
They were level at 10-10 at half-time but the visiting backs proved very sharp afterwards.
Percy Park moved above Billingham when they scored five tries in a 32-25 home win against Rossendale, while Westoe gained two points after a late fightback at Burnage.
They trailed 33-6 early in the second half, but tries by Andrew Lawson, John Younghusband and James Clark helped to cut the gap to 33-27 at the end.
Middlesbrough stepped up their escape from danger in North One East with a 22-9 home win against Rochdale, who threw everything at them for the first 25 minutes.
Boro defended heroically to concede only two penalties, then dramatically turned the tide with three tries before half-time.
Simon O’Farrell made a difference at fly half, while skipper Rob Bellerby again shone in attack and defence in the centre.
Winger Michael Thornburn scored in the corner, then centre Richard Metcalfe put in a bullocking run before exchanging passes and charging over.
Just before half-time a shuddering tackle by Bellerby saw the ball run loose and it was kicked on for winger Rhys Kilbride to score.
Rochdale’s third penalty after 60 minutes made it 15-9, but Boro quickly replied when O’Farrell broke through to score under the posts and add the only conversion.
Mowden's Chris Campbell scores a try
Morpeth’s 38-24 home defeat by Driffield means Boro are six points clear of danger with three games left.
West Hartlepool fought back strongly from an early 14-0 deficit at Huddersfield YMCA, but still lost 21-15.
After Stu Waites landed a penalty West kicked a penalty to the corner and Michael Hogan was driven over. They went ahead two minutes after the break when Ryan Painter took a quick penalty and beat several defenders as he made his way over in the corner with Waites adding a fine conversion. But Huddersfield scored a converted try to clinch the win with their only real attack of the half.
Durham and Northumberland One leaders Horden romped to a 42-7 win at Blyth, who are now out of contention for the play-off place.
Consett remain outsiders after a 45-24 home win against Gateshead, but their next three games are all against teams above them.
That includes a home game against Guisborough.
They remain second after winning 31-23 at Bishop Auckland, but if they slip up against Consett they could allow Darlington to sneak above them. They won 30-27 at Novos to move above Durham City, who were edged out 28-27 at Gosforth.
Darlington trailed 15-0 at half-time but clinched victory with the last kick of the match as Nick Baldwon landed his second penalty.
Centre Adam Gardner led the fightback with two tries, while prop Dan Miller and full back Alex Lineton also touched down.
They scored tries Stockton lost 26-22 at home to Hartlepool Rovers, despite having Phil Douglas back after a six-month injury absence and Martin Dixon playing only his fourth game of the season.
After an early Jeremy Good penalty Rovers took control with a try and two penalties, but just before the break Dan Phinn crossed for a try after slick handling.
Good converted and after the break Stockton opened up an 11-point lead with tries from skipper Steve Taylor and full back Dan Wilson. But Rovers came back with two tries, one conversion and a penalty.