Kingston Park gets the Magic Touch!

 North East Rugby League got into the Magic spirit on Saturday 12th May with a flurry of activity at Kingston Park.

With Newcastle Thunder hosting Bradford Bulls in Betfred League One action on Friday night and then Super League coming to town at the weekend to take over Newcastle’s St James’ Park, it was the home of Newcastle Thunder which hosted this Rugby League bonanza which saw hundreds of players coaches and spectators flock through the doors for the warm up.

The stars of the future were first in action with Newcastle Thunder’s OUTSTANDING accredited England Talent Pathway Player Development Programme giving the Under 12’s an opportunity to learn some new skills and be coached by Thunder Academy coaches. With players travelling from as far as Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Northumberland this year’s programme has been a resounding success so far and some real talent has been on show.

The Men’s League action got under way at midday with Durham Tigers facing off against Gateshead Storm A. The Shildon based outfit have recruited well in the off season and were keen to follow up their opening day win over Peterlee Pumas with another victory in front of the crowd at Kingston Park. A number of Tigers were returning to the fold but it was one of their new faces Ben Tirikula who was their stand out player on the day. The half back crossed for a hattrick including a spectacular individual effort from half way with the Tigers posting a further five tries through Malia Navinisinu, Michael Halliday, Jake Egglestone, Andrew McAdam and Jonny Hall and the reliable boot of Stephen Middlemas adding six goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Not to be outdone, Gateshead Storm stalwart Daniel Mole showed his experience in leading a very youthful Storm outfit with a hattrick of his own supplemented by scores from Thomas Skidmore, Joe Smith-Millican and Kyle Wharton but it proved to be in vain as Tigers ran out 44-30 victors to go top of the North East Open Age table with 2 wins from 2.

Next up Durham Demons faced Catterick Crusaders in what proved to be a real nail biter with the lead changing hands throughout. With both teams suffering defeat on the opening day of the season and keen to make amends it was the Crusaders who started the brightest and were 10 points to the good in as many minutes with tries through wingers George Robinson and Luke McQuade, Ricky Lee converting one. This seemed to inject some life into the Demons who then hit back and took the lead with tries from John Malcolm, Jamie Quinn and James Cook before the half hour mark. Coach Jason Grant rallied his troops and Crusaders regained control before half time with a brace from Daniel Bonham who was outstanding throughout and a fine solo effort from Dan White, the centre somehow managing to tiptoe his way down the touchline and find some space in the corner, which Lee again converted on the stroke of the break.

With a 10-point lead going into the second half the Crusaders again came firing out of the blocks to extend their lead through livewire hooker John Longden allowing Lee to add the simple extras to go ahead 14-30. The crowd were given a real treat when Demons managed to claw their way back to 30 all with tries from Ben Hoggart, James Cook, and Jamie Quinn which set up a tense finale. Bonham crossed for his hattrick score for the Crusaders and with Lee’s goal from out wide stretching their lead to 6 Demons had it all to do. Up stepped Luke Elliott who produced some individual brilliance to score twice within the last 6 minutes of the game and steal the victory from the Crusaders’ grasp.

The final action of the day saw a repeat of last years’ Open Age Grand Final with Cramlington Rockets taking on defending Champions Wallsend Eagles. A number of unavailability’s meant that the young Rockets side were going to find it tough all day but they proved their resilience and constantly plugged away but the Eagles were too much for them on the day.

Eagles Sean Wood opened the scoring with a neat show and go, fooling most of his own team as well as the opposition to dot down allowing Scott Rendles to convert his first of a fine 9/10 effort on the day. Eagles doubled their lead through Tom Pike and Rendles’ goal before the Rockets hit back through winger Jack Hunter who read the play and intercepted to gallop clear from half way. Jack Redfern opened his account for the day with the goal to half the deficit. Wallsend showed their dominance by running in a further three tries before the interval through Liam Blackburn, Chris McCabe and Ciaran Wrightson.

Blackburn then added his brace just after half time before Rhys Allison crossed and Eagles skipper Kai Downey scored his first of the day. A valiant fight back came from the Rockets mainly in the form of fullback Ryan Hull who crossed twice in quick succession showing some blistering pace and neat footwork to beat the Eagles defence, with Redfern bettering his scores but this all proved in vain as the Eagles brought up the half century through skipper Downey who scored back to back tries for his hattrick including a fine 50m effort. Unfortunately, the action was marred in the final minute of the game when Eagles John Boles was shown a yellow card for punching as proceedings were brought to a close with Eagles emerging victorious 18-58 to regain top spot on the league table from Durham Tigers who had won earlier due to a superior points difference.

Newcastle Thunder Community Development Officer Adam Houston said “It was great to see so many people here today. We had some people who arrived for the Player Development Programme at just after 9 o’clock this morning and to see kids still running around taking kicking tees on for the last game shows exactly what we’re all about. The community game is a huge part of what we’re trying to achieve here at Thunder and being able to host a day like this for the community clubs provides a real showcase and an opportunity for the players to experience something different”.

“This now kickstarts a massive week for us leading up to the Magic Night out on Friday versus Bradford Bulls where we hope to break our record attendance and then leads nicely into the action at St James’ Park when the Super League comes to town. We hope to see as many people there on Friday night to add to the atmosphere for what promises to be an amazing night”.

 

Tickets for the Magic Night Out are available at www.thunderrugby.co.uk