MICKY Ward refused to deny that his Blaydon side are now firmly in the National One title race after Saturday’s 35-34 win over Ealing, but admitted tough tests lie ahead.
The director of rugby and his side travel to Cinderford this Saturday, and promotion to the RFU Championship is by no means out of reach based on their last showing.
Against an Ealing side unbeaten in their first eight of the season they had the four-try bonus point inside 24 minutes, and even when a slick capital outfit applied pressure late on they had enough in the tank to absorb it.
“There is no denying we are now up there, but I definitely won’t allow the lads to get carried away,” said ex-Newcastle Falcons forward Ward.
“We have tough games coming up and you can get quickly brought down to earth in this league, but Ealing were not top of the table for nothing and we have done enough to beat them.
“Our line-out was not quite right and there were a couple of other things, but when you think our back-line contained lads straight out of school like Nathan Bailey, Jonny Burn and Frazer Wilson then it was a fantastic effort.”
Blaydon raced into a 28-17 half-time lead after number eight Gavin Jones’s early try was quickly followed by centre Charles Incledon’s successful 50-metre effort, having been put through a gap by fly-half Andrew Baggett.
Bailey’s blind-side break produced a third, Wilson’s speedy support run delivered a bonus point and even after the break the scoring kept going when James Hamilton burst through a ruck.
Two Ealing tries got them to within a point to set up a nail-biting finale, but Ward’s men contained the threat until jubilant scenes on the final whistle.
At the other end of the table, Tynedale slumped to their fifth defeat in succession, although Alex Fieldhouse’s late try rescued a four-try bonus point from a 44-31 loss at Richmond.
Darlington Mowden Park’s nine-game National Two North winning streak finally came to an end at leaders Stourbridge, with two tries in the final 12 minutes seeing the visitors beaten 33-18 after leading 18-11 at the break.
Westoe’s resurgence hit a speed-bump with a 28-10 loss at Bromsgrove, while Morpeth booked their place in the Northumberland Senior Cup final with their 36-5 win over Alnwick. They will meet either Tynedale Raiders or holders Percy Park.