THE odds of Championship rugby at Blaydon continue to get shorter after a ninth league win a row propelled them to second in the SSE National One table.
Leaders Ealing occupy the only promotion spot, but Blaydon are breathing down their necks after Saturday’s 28-22 triumph over previous nearest challengers Rosslyn Park.
The West London outfit was once one of the biggest names in the English club game, but found themselves trailing 28-5 before a remarkable late fight-back handed them a pair of bonus points which could well be significant come the end of the season.
Blaydon’s victory was built on a mixture of back-line defensive organisation and forward dominance, despite a misfiring line-out wasting early scoring chances.
The 16th-minute sin-binning of visiting tighthead Lorne Ward proved the killer blow and against a seven-man pack Blaydon racked up three tries in rapid time.
Skipper Matt Hall (pictured right) led the charge for a first as a close-range line-out prompted a text-book rolling maul in the left corner, while all-action flanker James Hamilton was rewarded for an industrious afternoon with a length-of-the-field counter-attack score. No 8 Ben Morris flopped over for the third as the home scrum pushed its way over the Rosslyn Park try-line, the fourth arriving after the hour mark when Gavin Painter’s break put teenage full-back Nathan Bailey away.
By this time Hugo Ellis had already crossed for the Londoners for an apparent consolation, but pulses began to quicken when Neville Edwards crossed and was quickly followed twice inside three minutes by right-wing Charles Broughton.
Blaydon withstood the late pressure to hold on for the win, although that pair of losing bonus points will be a source of irritation as Park now sit only three points behind in third.
Tynedale hauled themselves back into the mid-table pack with a 34-15 win at Wharfedale, wrapping up the bonus point by half-time.
A brace from Hamish Smales and one each for Peter Moralee and Chris Harris built a 27-0 lead which Alex Fieldhouse later added to.
Westoe were the latest victims of National Two North leaders Stourbridge in a 52-5 loss which leaves them third from bottom, while in National Three North West Hartlepool fell 34-10 to table-topping Chester and remain rooted in relegation trouble.