BILLINGHAM are flying this season, undefeated at home and sharing top spot in the RFU’s North Premier League with Hull – and Kirkby Lonsdale found out why on Saturday.

Skipper Dave Barton and Ben Walker were unavailable for the game so Tom Pickthall captained and the squad was bolstered by the return of Ryan Terry at full back on the artificial surface in the North East as Kirkby kicked off in bright sunshine.

Billingham obliged by dropping the ball to give Kirkby an early scrum, but they couldn’t profit and when the ball went Billingham’s way they counter-attacked up the middle of the field then flung the ball wide in typical fashion.

The winger was tackled but the ball went infield again and the forwards drove over, only to be held up under the posts, but from the five metre scrum they moved the ball wide to score by the right corner flag. The conversion was wide but the home side led 5-0 after five minutes.

A penalty gave Billingham a chance for an attacking lineout ten metres from the Kirkby line and their catch and drive was good, giving them their second try – this time converted to make it 12-0 with ten minutes played.

But Kirkby hit back with a long touch kick from Scott Armstrong which took play into the home twenty two, where they stole the throw and were unfortunate to knock on when a try looked on.

Billingham cleared from the scrum but Kirkby ran it back and were having the better of play without putting points on the board as the first quarter came to a close.

With Billingham back on the attack Kirkby were penalised when a tackler didn’t roll away, but the home side spurned the kickable penalty and opted for a scrum. Kirkby held the scrum and attempted to clear to touch but missed – a costly error as the hosts caught it and ran down the line for their third try, with the conversion taking the score to 19-0.

Kirkby were belatedly settling now and a penalty gave them a lineout ten metres out. A clean catch set up a successful drive over but this time it was Kirkby’s turn to be held up. From the five metre scrum, right wing Harry Ralston stepped inside his covering winger to score Kirkby’s first try and an excellent conversion from Mike Fearon put points on the board at 19-7.

However, Kirkby didn’t deal cleanly with the Billingham restart and when the ball went the home side’s way they attacked down the middle and another long pass out found the left wing who outpaced the cover for the try. The conversion made the score 26 – 7 as the half time whistle went.

Kirkby came out fighting in the second half, with an early Billingham infringement giving Kirkby a scrum from which Prop Dan Thompson scored his first and Kirkby’s second try. Fearon added the conversion.

Billingham were now the side under pressure as Kirkby came more and more into the game, but the balance swung back the home side’s way when Kirkby’s young second row James Fishwick was yellow-carded for a late tackle.

Billingham were good enough to exploit the man advantage with a try and at this stage it was an even contest. And ten minutes later it was Dan Thompson who crashed over for his second and Kirkby’s third try and the gap had closed to 31-19.

But Billingham upped their running game and a missed tackle let them in under the posts for a converted try with 12 minutes to play and a further score, which went unconverted, mad it 43-19 with six minutes left – was a decisive margin.

But Kirkby were not done and it was Thompson again who became a hat trick hero with his third and Kirkby’s bonus point try. Fearon nailed the conversion to make the score 43-26 as full time approached.

Billingham did score again in time added on but Kirkby had their point for a sterling performance.