WITH the Christmas festivities out of the way, Guisborough RUFC made the short journey to take on near rivals Redcar RUFC in their first fixture of 2022.

Kicking off proceedings, Guisborough immediately attacked and put pressure on Redcar’s defence. Spending the first part of the game camped in the home team’s 22 metre area, a penalty finally allowed the hosts to clear their defensive area without the scoreboard being troubled.The kick failed to reach touch and Guisborough’s Ben Wood attacked along the right wing. Play was then switched to the opposite wing, where Jack Robinson released Ewan Cameron. The winger had too much pace and power as he rounded defenders and ran under the posts.

The fast pace of the game suited Guisborough and soon Cameron was adding to the points tally. From a line-out just inside their own half, the ball was won by the visitors’ pack. Ball was quickly relayed to the left wing and, from the half-way line, Cameron showed his agility and pace to score.

Redcar enjoyed a period of play in the Guisborough half but were unable to break through a solid defence, before Connor McFarland won turnover ball. Defence turned into attack through Robinson’s kick ahead. Phil Shields received the ball inside the home team 22, but was stopped five metres from the try-line. A scrum was awarded to Guisborough and, after an infringement, a further scrum was elected by the visitors. The away team’s pack proved too strong and as the set-piece moved forward, Matthew Flint picked up and dived over to score.

In control of the game, Guisborough relentlessly pushed forward and Redcar found themselves defending deep in their own half. Line-out ball was won on the home team 22 metre line by Rob Leggott. A catch and drive moved forward at pace and, as it approached the whitewash, Michael MacDougall was at its base to score.

Unable to draw breath, Redcar found themselves further behind from the re-start. Nick Taggart burst forward and, as he accelerated into opposition territory, a high tackle brought him to ground. A penalty was awarded and quickly taken. The ball was shipped to the left wing, where Cameron danced past tacklers to score his third try. It also brought the first half to an end with the scoreboard reading Redcar 0, Guisborough 31.

Now playing up the slope, Guisborough continued to dominate the game. MacDougall broke into the Redcar half and kicked forward towards the left wing. Cameron was first to the ball and brought his backline into play. Shields popped up in midfield, before outstripping the Redcar players to score. A period of Redcar pressure in the Guisborough 22 was well defended, before Alex Ruff broke out of defence. Shields then kicked forward into the opposition half. Forwards and backs interlinked with short passes to take play into the hosts’ 22. As the ball moved to the right, Robinson dummied and ran through the gap created to touch down.

The non-stop defending was taking its toll on the Redcar team, who were visibly tiring. Turnover ball was won in the home team half and Gareth Lodge popped a pass for Shields to storm over beyond the try-line. Another break from inside their half saw Lewis Robson break through tackles. Close to the Redcar whitewash, the ball was passed right to Ruff who unselfishly brought Wood into play to score. It was testament to the home team that they kept plugging away and were finally rewarded after being awarded a penalty deep in Guisborough territory. Quickly taken, the Guisborough defence was caught flat-footed and a try by Danny Addison was scored in the right-hand corner.

With the game into its final minutes, a flurry of tries increased Guisborough’s lead. From a scrum on halfway, Robinson kicked the ball forward. The ball was picked up by Shields who broke clear and crossed the try-line to score. A strong run by Matt Rawlinson through the midfield created the next score, as the ball moved to the left wing, where Robson charged over.

Finally, with the last phase of the game, Ben Buckworth broke forward from his own half. Robinson kicked the ball cross-field towards the right wing. The ball bounced invitingly for Shields to run onto without breaking stride and with just grass in front of him, the full-back pressed on the accelerator pedal to score under the posts for his fourth try of the game. Robinson’s successful conversion, one of eight during the game, saw the referee blow his whistle for full-time, with the scoreboard reading: Redcar 5, Guisborough 76.

Guisborough have now consolidated their 17 point lead in the division two of the Durham and Northumberland league. On Saturday they Guisborough play Gateshead RUFC at Belmangate, kick-off 2.15pm.