Kirkby Lonsdale 17 v 5 Billingham

BILLINGHAM arrived at a rain-soaked Underley Park for this rearranged fixture on 79 points, locked in a three-way struggle for second place with Harrogate and Blaydon both on 80.

This was Billingham’s game in hand - one of their most important games of the season according to their officials - and they were desperately seeking a win to reclaim the play-off place.

However, the visitors ran into an inspired Kirkby side led by skipper Dave Barton that was hell bent on performing and they tackled Billingham out of the game.

The visitors kicked off downwind and towards the club house, a deliberate grubber which skidded across the wet surface. It was competently dealt with but the clearance kick held up in the gale and Billingham had a lineout on half way.

A penalty offence then gave Billingham a kick to the right corner and, from the lineout, they were able to catch and drive over for a try with five minutes played. There was no conversion but it was 0 – 5 and just the start the visitors would have wanted

Kirkby hit back within three minutes with a try from stand off Mike Fearon. Barton had done excellent work with a driving run into the Billingham twenty two before slipping a pass to Fearon, who had plenty to do, but a strong run took him over around ten metres in from the right touchline. The gale blew his conversion kick across the posts but parity was restored at 5 – 5.

As the game developed Kirkby were having the better of things, although they suffered a setback on the half hour when Fearon was helped off and out of the game with a knee problem. Barton moved to ten, Josh Sheridan came off the bench into the back row and Will Brown went from the back row on to the right wing.

An attempt by Barton to get points from pressure failed when his drop goal kick hit the post but Kirkby were not to be denied and, as the half drew to a close, pocket rocket flanker Stu Storey charged over from close range.

Ryan Terry’s conversion was good and Kirkby, deservedly, led 12 – 5 when the half time whistle went.

Billingham came out hot for the second half, stormed into home territory and when Kirkby killed the ball at a ruck the penalty gave Billingham an attacking lineout in the left corner. Taking the catch they threw everything into the drive and hammered the Kirkby line for five minutes with every kind of attack, but outstanding defence prevailed and they could not cross it.

The ball eventually came Kirkby’s way and from near his own line scrum half Ben Walker put in a raking clearance kick, which rolled into touch down the right wing inside the Billingham half. It was a Billingham throw and they had the ball but in possession couldn’t get on the front foot and their attempts to run the ball out were met by ferocious two up tackles, which repeatedly drove them back behind the gain line.

The weather became horrendous with teeming rain . Handling was nearly impossible in these conditions as was refereeing, but the understanding approach of Mr Nathan Howarth of the Northern Society kept things on an even keel.

An error from Billingham brought possession Kirkby’s way inside the visitors twenty two and they didn’t waste it when, after several phases, number eight Alex Rogers crashed over for the third try near the right corner flag. Terry’s conversion from wide out was at the mercy of the wind. The kick was close but shaved the post on the wrong side and it was 17 – 5 after 15 minutes of the second half.

There was plenty of time on the clock and when Kirkby messed up the Billingham restart the visitors had field position and possession. But again the defence was strong with replacement prop Sam Tallon now in the thick of the defensive action and despite Billingham’s best creative efforts they just ran into Kirkby, Josh (Shero) Sheridan noticeable in the tackle count.

In this possibly unexpected situation the faithful were wondering if a four try bonus point was on. It could have been but although chances came they also went and the game drew to a close at 17 – 5.

This is a famous Kirkby win which takes them to nearly 50 league points and ensures league status for next season with four games to play.

On a day like this the clubhouse was a very welcome place after the match where, for an all round performance in the tight and the loose, prop Dan Thompson was Kirkby’s Man of the Match.

A lightning strike had cut power and prevented the scheduled game going ahead the previous Saturday and stormy conditions had prevailed throughout the week, meaning the ground was saturated.

However, Pete Kyles, Plug Taylor (recovering from a knee operation) and a few others managed to get surface water off the pitch to enable this game to go ahead.


1 Dan Thompson

2 Alex Briggs

3 Braden Schiller

4 James Thompson

5 Craig Galbraith

6 Will Brown

7 Stu Storey

8 Alex Rogers

9 Ben Walker

10 Mike Fearon

11 Andrew Bargh

12 Dave Barton ( C )

13 Scott Armstrong

14 Cameron Dale

15 Ryan Terry


16 Josh Sheridan

17 Sam Tallon

18 Sam Tomlinson