On a cold and dewy morning, Durham 3rd team looked to continue their unbeaten run at home to Hull 1st team. With Hull sitting 3rd in division Northern 1A, and being notoriously powerful up front, the stage was set for a scintillating encounter.
After a spirited warm up, Durham started on the front foot earning an early penalty, which was duly converted by Elliot Manly. Although it seemed this was to set the tone for the first half, what followed was a much closer affair, with handling errors from both sides allowing neither to build phases, particularly frustrating for Durham, who when attacking out wide did look potent. The next breakthrough resulted from an attacking line out on the 22 metre line for Durham, throwing to the ever dependable Ollie Harris he leapt like a salmon dominating the contested ball and allowing an unassailable driving maul to be set. Despite the power of the Hull pack, Durham’s superior technique saw them drive over the line, with Hugo Chambre touching down. A tough kick out wide saw the conversion narrowly missed.
Supremacy at the set piece was a theme of the first half for Durham, particularly at the scrum, but frustratingly Durham were unable to capitalise on these turnovers. An especially prevalent example of said supremacy was demonstrated when Durham retained line out ball in their own 22, and forcefully drove Hull back to the half way line, culminating in a penalty. A measured first half performance was only marred when Elliot Manly’s clearing kick inside his own 22 was charged down, permitting Hull’s centre to touch down uncontested under the posts. Thus the first half ended with Durham narrowly maintaining their lead 8-7.
In the second half Hull came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders: a far more determined outlook saw Durham on the back foot, resulting in a well-executed try in the right hand corner. A line break from the Hull fly-half, saw the ball spread wide to the winger who touched down uncontested. Durham now knew they would have to come from behind if they wanted to go home with the points, and on the back of some passionate words from captain Toby Thurgood, they stepped up to the plate.
Sustained phases in the Hull 22, with the forwards punching significant holes in the disarrayed defence, allowed Elliot Manly to the slice through the Hull line like a knife through butter: his crucial try and subsequent conversion more than atoning for the earlier charge down.
However this was not game over, with more than 20 minutes left on the clock Alex Alcock fluffed his lines when clearing a kick, setting up Hull for an excellent attacking opportunity. Yet the resilient Durham promptly turned the ball over and cleared their lines. Absorbing further waves of Hull pressure, Durham finally conceded a penalty in their own half. Yet with the ball sailing wide of the uprights it seemed Durham were off the hook, until Ben Scher knocked, setting Hull up with a 5 metre scrum. Hull thought they were going to have one more bite at the cherry until a magnificent drive from the Durham forwards sent them careering backwards. This turning point was all Durham needed to close out the game, with their superior fitness and game management granting a hard won victory.
Final Score: Durham 15-14 Hull