Vale of Lune meandered their way north eastwards for their first ever visit to Billingham on Saturday, and were soundly beaten 75-10.
Both clubs approached their second meeting of the season from opposite ends of the compass.
A win for Billingham would send them north for a possible play off slot, while defeat for Vale would despatch them southwards to almost certain relegation, therefore on paper there was plenty to play for, albeit for contrasting reasons.
Vale had struggled throughout the week to put a side together and eventually had to travel with only 16 players, hardly the right mindset to take on a side that was smarting after their defeat at Kirkby Lonsdale and determined to climb back into playoff contention.
It came as no real surprise that the hosts rampaged through a Vale side that only contained six players who had been in the squad which defeated Billingham 21-19 at the end of November while Billingham were able to call on 13 of those that played in their defeat at Powderhouse Lane.
Vale had a new second row pairing in debutants Ciaran Sutcliffe and Harry Vause, two young players who showed enormous promise, they never took a step back and played with gusto throughout in what was a demanding baptism of fire. Flanker Bobby Holdbrook was making his first appearance of the season and as always was in the thick of the action but on the day, Vale were no match for a well drilled, fit, quality side in a club that is very much looking to the future.
In perfect conditions the Vale were the first to score when following a passage of positive rugby in which the ball was moved swiftly around to create space for wing forward Jack Ayrton to burst clear for an unconverted try.
However, Vale’s enterprising opening was quickly cancelled out with an unconverted try in the seventh minute.
Two more tries were added, one of which was converted before the end of the first quarter as a quicksilver Billingham side took a firm grip on the reins and comfortably eased their way to a comfortable victory and their highest points total of the season.
By half time Billingham had rattled in four further tries, one of which was converted, to leave the Vale shell shocked and in need of a pick me up but none was forthcoming because two minutes into the second half they were pushed back into the toaster when Billingham sent the electronic scoreboard blinking with an unconverted try, followed by two more, one being converted all inside the opening 10 minutes.
To their credit, Vale battled bravely on against overwhelming odds but Billingham were in no mood to soft pedal their way to the final whistle.
Vale’s second try came in the 62nd minute with a real collector’s item, namely a try from prop Ross Pillow.
His try came from a rare prolonged occupation of Billingham territory after Jordan Dorrington had scooted through to put the Vale on the front foot.
Vale’s spirited encounter could not be sustained as Billingham reset their instruments to purloin three more tries, two being converted to bring the total of points conceded by Vale in their last three games to an eye watering 213.
There are three more North Premier fixtures to be completed before the final whistle on April 13, which cannot come soon enough for Vale which will bring the nightmare to an end, while Billingham’s eyes are firmly fixed on something far more exciting as they stretch every sinew to achieve their dream.