THE pace of dual-registered Newcastle Falcons winger Dan Marshall proved decisive for Blaydon as he scored two tries in the 25-12 home win against Moseley.

The bonus point victory kept Blaydon just ahead of Hull Ionians and narrowed the gap on Esher to five points in the battle to avoid National One relegation.

Blaydon are at home to Coventry this week, then visit Hull, but Esher look to have the toughest run-in.

Veterans like Jason Smithson have learnt to pace themselves over a long season and he again showed he is coming on strong towards the end of the campaign.

The No 8 scored his 95th league try for the club after Blaydon defended well for the first 15 minutes.

Marshall made a long diagonal run into the corner and hooker Matt Thompson threw a pinpoint 20-metre pass to Smithson, who went in unopposed on the left for Brett Connon to convert.

Moseley hit back quickly with a catch-and-drive try, but it remained 7-5 until half-time and when Blaydon won rare line-out ball on the resumption Marshall raced over from halfway.

A converted try by Moseley levelled it at 12-12 before Blaydon sent on prop Trevor Davison and skipper Keith Laughlin after they had helped the England Counties XV to a 45-28 win against Scotland Clubs on Friday night.

Connon kicked a penalty before his brother Max, on from the bench at scrum half, sent Marshall over after a pick-up by Smithson.

Three minutes later Smithson broke out of his own 22 and Falcons lock Andrew Davidson went on a 30-metre charge before crashing into the full back and off-loading for the other winger, Joe Lucasmith to score.

Barnard Castle survived a fright at home to Gateshead, winning 12-11 to leap to the top of Durham and Northumberland One.

Gateshead opened the scoring with the first of two penalties by full back Scott Cartner, and a try by winger Matthew Banning helped them into an 11-5 lead. But Barnard Castle's second try was converted to clinch victory.

Middlesbrough won 96-0 at home to Ryton, who are doomed to relegation after losing players. They scrummaged well but offered little else and Boro winger Sean Maloney profited with four tries.

New full back Callum Marshall, a local student, touched down twice and converted five of the 14 tries. The other conversions were kicked by Matthew Todd, who also grabbed two tries, as did winger Ben Wood.

Boro scored 56 points when playing into the strong wind in the second half.

*A crowd of 6,319 watched England Under 20s beat Italy 46-0 at the Northern Echo Arena on Friday night, which impressed coach Louis Deacon.

“With the weather the way it was the support from the crowd was outstanding and the guys fed off that,” he said. “It was important we kept the pace high to make sure we didn't give Italy any momentum.”

An overthrow at a line-out by Italy presented the first try to Newcastle and Tynedale hooker Jamie Blamire as England built a 17-0 interval lead.

Flanker Ben Curry also touched down on his way to the man of the match award, while his Sale back row colleague Josh Bayliss grabbed a second half brace, along with London Irish full back Tom Parton.