NORTHALLERTON'S unbeaten run very nearly came to a surprise and abrupt end away at Castleford before they managed to claw back a 17-17 draw.

Castleford had been on a bad run of form lately, losing five of their last six games and were highly tipped by most to lose again. The home team however belittled their recent form with a spirited and well executed game plan that at times had Northallerton perplexed.

Castleford narrowly missed a first minute penalty from out wide which should have alerted North to the fact that it was going to be a tough afternoon.

The home team put the first points on the board after seven minutes with a well worked try out wide where they had a two man overlap to score in the corner. Despite the conversion being in a more difficult spot than the earlier penalty, the kicker still managed to convert for a seven point advantage.

North then pinned Castleford in their own 22 for the next ten minutes with a succession of lineouts. However, North were unsuccessful with three out of four of their own throws which is usually their forte and would guarantee at least one try when only ten to twelve metres from the try line. The wayward lineouts combined with numerous handling errors continued to inexplicably plague Northallerton for most of the afternoon.

After twenty minutes an intelligent kick through by Zander Metcalfe was chased up by winger Benjamin James. James easily won the foot race with his opposite number but was adjudged to have knocked the ball on over the try line.

Five minutes later North did get some points on the board when the Castleford prop who was offside, late tackled Joe Osleton, giving Jedd Bainbridge a simple penalty conversion. For the next ten minutes North had the vast majority of possession but failed to make any inroads past the compact Castleford defence.

Right on the stroke of half time the home team fly half converted a difficult penalty kick from out wide to send the teams in at the break 10-3.

At half time North brought on Iain Swall and Sam Taylor who had both been suffering from slight knocks and were only to be brought on in case of an emergency. Coach James Hopkin deemed the scoreline nigh on close to an emergency so opted for sooner rather than later.

After ten minutes following a rare successful lineout, Mathew Marsay executed a perfect grubber kick through which he chased up himself. Despite the covering full back gathering the ball first, Marsay still ripped the ball off him to feed to the supporting Metcalfe who scored a converted try under the posts and level up the game.

Straight from the restart North fumbled the ball and put pressure on themselves which Castleford took immediate advantage of with another converted try to retake a seven point lead.

Just as it looked like the game was ebbing away Metcalfe made a break in midfield, side stepping both Castleford centres before feeding Taylor outside him. Taylor went on an arcing run past three defenders to score halfway between the touchline and the posts. With the pressure on him, Bainbridge added the conversion to tie the scores.

North had one more chance to score two minutes from time, but despite having a two man overlap, opted to go through the middle which the home team coped with easily.

Man of the match was awarded to Zander Metcalfe.

Next week North are away at Leeds Medics and Dentists with a 3pm kick off.

The Northallerton 2nd team game against Acklam was cancelled so North accepted the offer to play a friendly against a Middlesbrough second team away.

Despite Boro being a level above the normal standard at which North seconds play, Northallerton still put in a very creditable display before losing 14-5. Norths points coming via a try from David Barker.

Next week Northallerton seconds are scheduled to play North Ribblesdale at home with a 3pm kick off.