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Billingham beat the freeze to remain top; WEEKEND ROUND-UP.

IT was a disappointing weekend for local rugby fans with only victorious Billingham playing, due to the freezing weather.

They travelled to Aspatria and won 8-6. It was the only tie played in North Two East so they remain top.

A fierce cold wind blew directly across the park almost taking players and spectators off their feet. Billingham tried free-flowing rugby and were rewarded after 10 minutes when Chris Hyndman reversed a run to go blind and sprint in for an unconverted try.

The half-back combination of Paul Woodhouse and Joe Evans ripped into the Aspatria defence but conditions meant Craig Shepherd had poor ball out wide.

Aspatria pressed but with Martin Dixon and Dave Robinson putting in crunching tackles they never looked like crossing the line.

With thrower Amos hitting both Tennant and Dalton in the lineout and centre Anth Hyndman making huge gains Billingham should have been out of sight.

When Woodhouse was fouled Peter Evans slotted home the penalty.

A very experienced home side were adept at killing the ball and a minor infringement resulted in a yellow card for Billingham and three points to Aspatria.

Flowing rugby became impossible and Mark Schiller was brought on to shore up the pack in the last quarter as Billingham pounded the try line and but for outstanding defence could have scored on several occasions.

Billingham's Barry Woodhouse said: "We put up an excellent performance in terrible conditions against a team who don't deserve to be ninth in the table."

There was big controversy at Redcar when their home game against Ponteland was called off just 10 minutes before kick-off.

It came down to the Ponteland skipper who was the only voice against playing on the Mackinlay Park second team pitch - a surface which appeared frost-free and safe.

The referee was happy to start, as were Redcar.

Although the laws allow the official to be the sole arbiter in the case of dispute, he declined to enforce that provision.

Redcar have protested to the RFU Northern competitions committee and requested a walk-over.

The irony of the situation was exhibited when the visiting Guisborough second stream upgraded to the same pitch following the decision for their clash against Redcar seconds. A younger Redcar team triumphed 13-9 in front of a large crowd, who enjoyed an entertaining game despite the bitter wind.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 12, 2009
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