For 70 minutes of the game, Durham County Senior XV were looking comfortable at 24 - 12 and should have seen out the game.
However, Northumberland finished the game better, scoring three converted tries in the last 10 minutes to seal the win.
Early dominance at the scrum was evident, with new front row of Ralph APPLEBY (DMPRFC), Andy ROLLINS (West Hartlepool RFC) and Trevor DAVIDSON (England Counties/Blaydon RFC) giving their counerparts a hard time at the coal face.
An early penalty opportunity was spurned for a kick to touch, but when the following catch and drive lineout failed, as scrum was awarded.
No. 8 Danny DIXON (Billingham RFC) broke from the base of the scrum and the ball was fed to winger Scott JORDAN (Preston Grasshoppers RFC) who cut a line across the visiting defence for the score under the posts (5 - 0). Josh BRAGMAN (Hull RFC) provided the afters (7 - 0).
Northumberland were level soon after though, when centre Aedan Maloney found a gap in the home defence to score near the posts (7 - 5). Full back Rhodri Adamson levelled the scores with the conversion (7 - 7)
Two penalties were added by Josh BRAGMAN, as Northumberland kept the pressure on themselves with needless penalties at the breakdown. (13 - 7).
Although Northumberland did have possession, their indiscretions found them pinned back in their own half for long periods.
Durham were unable to capitalise however, only scoring an unconverted try (18 - 7) at half time.
Northumberland started the better after oranges, but were hampered by a nasty looking knee injury to winger Dan Law, who was stretchered off.
The delay had a negative affect on Durham and they never seemed to recover, conceding a try minutes later via Northumberland No. 8 Ben Gothorp (18 - 12), which went unconverted.
Further indiscipline saw Josh BRAGMAN slot two more pwenalties to take the score to 24 - 12.
Tries were exchanged between the sides as first by Northumberland flanker Keith Laughlin which was converted (24 - 19), then No. 8 Danny DIXON (29 - 19) which was unconverted.
However, Durham faded and Northumberland scored 3 further converted tries (29 - 38) for the win in a game where Durham were left wondering how they lost a game they really should have seen out.
(The following report is by courtesy of Northumberland RFU's website, giving their perspective of the game)
It has been a number of years since Durham and Northumberland played against each other at Senior County level but old rivalries were renewed on Saturday 14th May when the two sides met in the league stage of the Bill Beaumont Cup. At the new West Hartlepool RFC ground both teams contained players familiar with each other from their Club duties, with Durham, leastwise on paper looking the stronger side.
Playing with the stiff breeze in their favour Durham immediately demonstrated a level of confidence in opting to kick for touch from a penalty deep in the Northumberland half. Northumberland actually stole the lineout but were forced back over their own goal line to give Durham the attacking scrum. That was duly won and winger Sean Jordan scored under the posts to give his stand-off Josh Bragman an easy conversion for a seven point lead after three minutes. Northumberland were not too overawed however, and from a lineout on the Durham 22 metre line patient build up led to debutant Novos centre Aedan Maloney spotting a gap, accelerate and touchdown for a try that fullback Rhodri Adamson converted to bring the scores level. A knock on from the kick off by Northumberland gave Durham an attacking platform and they earned a penalty to the right of the posts which Bragman slotted over to put his team back in the lead. For the next five minutes a series of penalties against Northumberland kept them back in their own half and it was no surprise when Bragman again added three points for a six point lead after 15 minutes.
The next twenty odd minutes saw Northumberland occasionally pressing but spilled ball and penalty offences allowed Durham to clear their lines and as we approached half time the home team took advantage of poor lineout play by Northumberland to move the ball out wide to the left for an unconverted try. So, half time and Durham leading 18-7.
Northumberland began the second period with a change at scrum half, James Christie coming on for Jack Elliott. Thus we had a Blaydon player of Northumberland stock coming up against his Club's home County. Mind you, Durham also had in their midst a former Northumberland player in Tom Bramwell and Northumberland captain Keith Laughlin is also a Blaydon player. However, back to the rugby and an early long clearance by Adamson from his own 22 was chased after by winger Dan Law. A desperate dive to stop the ball going into touch saw Law succeed but in the process it was obvious to all that he had hurt himself. After a long stoppage, Law needed stretchered off with knee ligaments damage. Northumberland stayed positive, won a lineout on the Durham 5 metre line followed by number eight Ben Gothrop scoring to bring his team within six points of the home side.
However, indiscipline at the breakdown again cost Northumberland dear with Durham's Bragman adding two more penalties for a 24-12 scoreline after 55 minutes. The away team kept coming back. A series of catch and drives from lineouts gave skipper Laughlin the chance to touch down and with Adamson adding the two points, so on the hour mark, Nortumberland were five points behind. Straight from the kick off Durham pressed into the Northumberland 22 and after some pressure their star player, number eight Danny Dixon score to put Durham ten points ahead with ten minutes to play. Durham then made a series of player substitutions and the complexion of the game completely changed but not in Durham's favour.
On 71 minutes Northumberland scored wide out on the left through Tom Grimes to narrow the gap to five points then almost immediately after, a great break down the left ended with Ben Haigh scoring and Adamson again adding the two points to put Northumberland ahead for the first time in the match. Two minutes later and a second Novos debutant, Jonny Ward shrugged off some poor Durham tackling to put Northumberland seven points ahead. With Adamson adding the conversion Durham needed at least two scores get anything from the fixture. Poor discipline from Durham at the kick off, taking the Northumberland catcher out in the air meant Northumberland were easily able to clear the ball back upfield for a lineout on halfway. A few moments later and we had the final whistle, Northumberland winning 29-38.
Considering that injuries had forced Northumberland to re- organise their back line from the previous weekend and give two players their debut this performance was more than just commendable. Northumberland now travel down to Leicestershire to meet the team that on the first weekend of the tournament had beaten Durham whilst they travel to Peterborough to face East Midlands.
Updated 10:03 - 20 May 2016 by Kevin Robinson