It wasn’t pretty and there wasn’t much between the teams in a feisty game with the odd handbag thrown about as Kirkby took on their promotion-chasing visitors from the North East.

This was one of only three games played in North Premier on Saturday in a fluctuating, howling wind from the prevailing south west which was a constant reminder that the next storm in the queue – Jorge – was on its way.

Given the preceding wet weather, the pitch was in remarkably good condition and remained so throughout the game and some credit must go to groundsman Pete Kyles for that.

Kirkby kicked off downwind towards the clubhouse and the early exchanges were fairly even, with probably the slight edge to Kirkby and this materialised into the first try when the forwards camped on the Billingham line.

Sam Kyle-Clay was the man in possession to score the try, ably assisted by Harlan Corrie as the pack crossed the whitewash near the posts before Mike Fearon slotted the conversion and it was 7-0 with ten minutes played.

But a mixture of elusive running and sloppy tackling let Billingham back into the game with a try in the right corner.

Into and across the wind, the touchline conversion never stood much of a chance; it duly missed and Kirkby hung onto their lead of 7-5 at the end of the first quarter.

The next scoring chance for Kirkby was a long-range penalty downwind from the half-way line.

Fearon struck it very well and it looked good all the way but it hammered into an upright and stayed out.

Approaching half time, Billingham scored their second try and this time the conversion attempt was successful as they led for the first time 7-12.

That remained the score when the whistle went to end an even half with only one score separating the teams.

With the second half under way, David Cooper-Dunn was on for the injured Reece Tomlinson and it was Kirkby who struck first with a debut first-team try for the powerful young winger Ryan Allwood.

The try came from forward pressure in the Billingham 22, then a sweeping move from the Kirkby backs to create a chance for Allwood who brushed off a tackle to score in the right corner.

The conversion was from almost exactly the same place to Billingham’s in the first half and it suffered the same fate.

Fearon again struck it well enough but the wind had its way, it went wide and the teams were level again at 12-12 midway through the second half.

From a home point of view there was little else to report.

A few decisions went against Kirkby and they swung the game Billingham’s way with nine points coming from the boot of their stand-off Peter Evans who kicked two easy penalties and dropped a goal.

One penalty seemed a particularly harsh decision against Kirkby, which did not escape the attention or educated comment of the High Side faithful.

As the clock wound down, Fearon did have a kick at goal into the wind to bring Kirkby back into losing bonus point range and they were well worth that but agonisingly the ball shaved the post on the wrong side.

This went some way to describing Kirkby’s frustrations on the day and at full time it was two tries apiece and the score still 12-21 which, to paraphrase a famous quote, were the right numbers just in the wrong order.

Kirkby: Dan Thompson, Dan Armistead, Sam Kyle-Clay, Reece Tomlinson, James Thompson, Harlan Corrie, Josh Sheridan, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker (captain), Mike Fearon, Stu Storey, Rhys Gealy, Harry Huddleston, Ryan Allwood, Chris Ramwell. Bench: Alex Briggs, David Cooper-Dunn, Tom Pickthall.

Billingham: Kieran Clark, Jordan Foulds, Joe Spoors, Michael Whinn, Ben Walton, Dan Burns, Nathan Myers, Anthony Jackson, Conner Foley, Peter Evans, Joseph Ross, Luke Wilson, Adam Gardner, Matthew Kirby, Elliott Husband. Bench: Martin Hopley, Adam Sunley, Will Scott.