Billingham 48-26 Kirkby Lonsdale

Mike Fearon (tackler) and Tom Pickthall.
Mike Fearon (tackler) and Tom Pickthall.
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Kirkby Lonsdale suffered a 48-26 defeat at joint-leaders of North Premier Billingham on Saturday as the hosts maintained their unbeaten home record.

Kirkby kicked off towards the clubhouse and Billingham obliged by dropping the ball, giving Kirkby an early scrum.

However, they couldn’t profit from the position and when the ball went Billingham’s way they counter-attacked up the middle of the field and flung the ball wide in typical fashion.

Their winger was tackled but the ball went infield and their forwards drove over but were held up under the posts.

From the five metre scrum they drove over but were again held up for another five metre scrum, but this time they moved the ball wide to score by the right corner flag.

The conversion was wide but the home side had the quick points on the board and led 5-0 after just five minutes.

A penalty gave the home side a chance for an attacking lineout some ten metres from the line, their catch and drive was good and this gave them their second try, this time converted to make it 12 – 0 with ten minutes played.

Kirkby hit back with a long touch kick from Scott Armstrong, which took play into the home twenty two.

Kirkby stole the Billingham throw and attacked the line but were unfortunate to knock on when a try looked on.

Billingham cleared from the scrum but Kirkby ran it back and were having the better of play, although they couldn’t put points on the board as the first quarter came to a close.

With Billingham back on the attack Kirkby were penalised when the tackler didn’t roll away but the home side spurned the kickable three points and opted for a scrum some 15 metres out.

Billingham heeled it but Kirkby held the scrum and the ball went into open play, the Kirkby defence was good and back in possession they attempted to clear to touch but missed.

It was a costly error as Billingham caught it and ran it down the line and some slick passing and fast running resulted in their third try, the conversion taking the score to 19-0 on the half hour.

Kirkby were settling now, a penalty gave them a lineout ten metres out and a clean catch set up a successful drive over but this time it was their turn to be held up.

They attacked again from the five metre scrum, drew in defenders then spun a long pass out wide to right wing Harry Ralston who stepped inside his covering winger to score Kirkby’s first try, an excellent conversion from Mike Fearon putting points on the board at 19-7 with 34 minutes played.

It would have been ideal to go in at half time with this recovery and momentum but Kirkby didn’t deal cleanly with the Billingham restart.

The ball came the home side’s way and their forwards attacked down the middle, the drive was held but another typical long pass out found their left wing who grub kicked through and outpaced the cover for the try.

The conversion made the score 26-7 after 38 minutes, Kirkby did have a chance to narrow the gap with a kick at goal when Billingham didn’t release the restart kick but the ball drifted wide and there was no change to the score when the half time whistle went.

It was a decent margin for the home side but Kirkby came out fighting in the second half with a long penalty from Armstrong which looked as though it was going to be too long but it hit the Billingham corner flag and bounced into touch.

Kirkby caught their lineout throw and drove, a Billingham infringement gave Kirkby a scrum from which prop Dan Thompson scored his first and Kirkby’s second try, Fearon adding the conversion to narrow the gap to 26-14 with only three second half minutes on the clock.

Billingham were now the team under pressure as Kirkby came more and more into the game but the balance swung back the home side’s way after 11 minutes when Kirkby’s young second row, James Fishwick, was yellow carded for a late tackle.

Billingham were good enough to exploit the man advantage with a try from their number eight but the conversion missed to make the score 31-14 after 15 minutes of the second period.

At this stage it was an even contest and ten minutes later, after a period of pressure near the home line, it was Thompson who again crashed over for his second and Kirkby’s third try.

Fearon’s kick hit the post and bounced out but the gap had closed to 31-19 inside the final quarter.

Billingham then upped their strong running game, a missed tackle let them in under the posts for a converted try and it was 38-19 with 12 minutes of the second half to play.

Kirkby seemed to have withstood the Billingham pressure when young winger Andrew Bargh picked up a loose ball on his twenty two and had a clear run to the line, only for the referee, agonisingly, to bring play back for an earlier Kirkby infringement.

Billingham’s forwards attacked from the resulting scrum, Kirkby resisted but could not prevent the try which went unconverted to make the score 43-19 with six minutes of normal time remaining.

This was a decisive margin but Kirkby weren’t done and it was that man again, Thompson, who scored his third and Kirkby’s fourth and bonus point try.

Fearon nailed the conversion to make the score 43-26 as full time approached.

Billingham did score again in time added on to make the final score 48-26 but Kirkby had their point.