Redcar Great Game, Came Close, But No Cigar
By Dave Pearson
Redcar travelled up the A66 to face a Darlington side who find themselves at the wrong end of the table but much like Redcar with the right side and consistency of availability could quite easily sit in the top half.
Today’s game will be remembered not for the result but that of Charlie Challenor taking the field and playing 40mins at loose head prop at the ripe old age of 64, this is an amazing feat and should be celebrated across the wider rugby family, but whilst being celebrated it should also show the troubles we are having with player availability, or players willingness to turn out week in week out for the sport they chose to be a part of.
Redcar started brightly enough with a flurry of attacks on the Darlington line, Charlie Templeman came close on his return to rugby at Redcar (after far too long), a missed penalty attempt by Addison should have seen Redcar take the lead early on but the first half was all about what could and at sometimes should have been.
In attack Redcar looked dangerous but spilt far too much possession in the final third, defensively they lack confidence and let teams come to them rather than meet them head on. Darlington attacked and with not much luck out wide chose to come through the middle and with missed tackles and poor defending close in, they took full advantage. Although never beaten Redcar looked like a side out of luck and hoping for the good times to return but Darlington were in no mood to assist them, scoring three unanswered tries.
Josh Dixon scored Redcar’s only first half try with a well worked backs move saw him glide over untouched, Darlington scored again late on, through some poor defending to make it 4 tries to 1. Right on the whistle Redcar’s Neil Young thought he had scored only for it to be disallowed for an infringement at the ruck, from the man of the moment Charlie Challenor, that was Chaz last impact on the game and we must take some time to applaud him for his efforts, amazingly he was replaced by another club stalwart in Paul Evans for the second half, (a last minute call up due to Chester Reed being injured in the warm up !!!!).
Half Time Darlington 28 Redcar 5
In the first half Redcar's backs looked sharp and if the forwards could hold onto possession and build phases it was inevitable success wouldn’t be too far away.
The second half at times was reminiscent of To You, To Me, as neither side could build phases without a mistake but when Redcar did they looked extremely dangerous and it wasn’t long before MOM Josh Dixon carved through the defence for his second of the day, unfortunately the conversion was missed.
Redcar found some confidence and back row Dom Ayre was like a man possessed, spoiling all of Darlos forward runs with a series of great tackles and turnovers. Captain Brad Stovell began to get the backline ticking and with some rampaging runs from centre Dennis Hunt, it was looking more like the Redcar of old.
A good passage of play and a timely pass by Paul Evans released Addison, who fended off his opposite man to score in the corner but once again the conversion was missed.
Darlington then reverted to a forwards game and made ground up the pitch, it wasn’t long before they crashed over from close in to extend the score 17-33. Next over the tryline was Charlie (Honey Badger) Templeman, who cut back inside and darted over for 5pts and a conversion to leave the game hanging by a thread 24-33.
With 10mins to go Darlington scored again through a series of penalties followed by some forward and back inter play and their very excitable fly half scored what would prove to be the winning try 24-38.
Redcar battled hard and at times looked like an attacking side from the top end of the table with great go forward, support and offloading and it wasn’t long before a great piece of play and some 12/13 phases ended with Josh Dixon scoring his third and hat trick try and with 6mins left on the clock a conversion from Addison got Redcar within to one score. The final play of the game should have seen Redcar score out wide, but it was not to be and Darlington held on to win, but a much improved performance from Redcar, who Picked up 2 points from the fixture.
Final Score Darlington 38 Redcar 31
Man of The Match was Josh Dixon, voted by Darlington but Dom Ayre deserves a huge mention, also Bradley Stovell and Charlie Templeman, who looked like he had never been away.