South Wales Scorpions 30 Gateshead Thunder 36
Gateshead Thunder survived a late fightback from South Wales Scorpions as they claimed a deserved 30-36 victory in Neath.
Kevin Neighbour’s side headed into the game aiming to close the gap between themselves and third-bottom Scorpions, who gave a debut to former Wales and British and Irish Lions forward Andy Powell. Thunder were on top from the kick-off in Wales, taking just 50 seconds to open the scoring as Luke Hardcastle crashed over in the corner. The Kingstone Press Championship One strugglers, with just one win all season, then stretched their lead further in the sixth minute as George Griffin grounded under the sticks.
Benn Hardcastle converted, making it 0-10 before the home responded four minutes later as James Tutuila finished Billy Sheen’s jinking run before Matt Wilcox converted.
Thunder remained undeterred, however, with Jacon Blades scoring in the corner and Hardcastle again converting in the 15th minute. Omari Caro then superbly out jumped the opposition in the corner to strengthen his side’s advantage, while a further Hardcastle conversion made it 6-22.
Dalton Grant’s try, followed by Wilcox’s second conversion, reduced the lead, but Hardcastle’s penalty and Caro’s second try made it 12-28 at the break. Gateshead began the second-half much like the first as Griffin crashed down another try five minutes after the restart, although Hardcastle failed to convert.
Callum Cockburn then added Thunder’s final try in 53rd minute before The Scorpions’ fightback began through Sheen’s try, while Wilcox provided another conversion.
Tutuila’s second try of the afternoon made it 24-36 as the in-form Wilcox converted again with 22 minutes left on the clock.
Haydn Peacock’s try, and Wilcox’s final conversion, three minutes before the end ensured a nervy finish but Thunder held on for the much-needed victory.
Gateshead Thunder: L.Hardcastle, Johnson, Blades, Heil, Caro, Stamp, B. Hardcastle, Payne, Hough, Fewlass, Stewart, Ollett, Griffin. Subs: Cockburn, Ruff, Welton, Krebs.
Attendance: 305 Referee: C Kendall.