Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

READY FOR THE BIG ONE; Boro Warm Up for Derby Showdown in Fine Style Rugby Union

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

READY FOR THE BIG ONE; Boro Warm Up for Derby Showdown in Fine Style Rugby Union

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW WILKINSON

MIDDLESBROUGH stepped up their promotion bid with a win at Wheatley Hills - nicely setting up this coming Saturday's big derby with Billingham.

Boro are still in third place in North One East, but moved to within a point of their Doncaster opponents on Saturday thanks to a 28-5 success.

And Billingham were also happy with that result, for after beating Old Crossleyans 26-0, Billingham lead the table by eight points.

Both Boro and Billingham, local pride apart, have a huge incentive to win Saturday's Acklam Park clash.

Had Boro lost to Wheatley Hills they would have been well off the pace, but as it stands they are in the thick of it.

Boro came from 5-0 down to score four tries against a side that has been flying.

One of them was notched by former skipper Peter Wright and was a landmark try as it took his tally for the club to 100.

The others were scored by Craig Chapman, Ross McNeill and Phil Harland in a strong and composed team performance.

And with Jack Bircham on target with his conversions it was a good day for a Boro team that made light of being understrength.

In a division in which the top team wins automatic promotion, Billingham are looking in a strong position even at this relatively early stage.

Second place earns a crack at the play-offs but Boro will be looking to win on Saturday to stay in the hunt for top spot.

But they face a Billingham side in form. They scored four tries to earn a bonus point, Will Turnbull, Michael Evans, Steve Hutchinson and Peter Evans all scoring. Peter Evans kicked three conversions.

And the clean sheet will delight a Billingham side that prides itself on free-flowing rugby, which can leave it prone to conceding points.

Stockton took the Durham and North One derby honours - and strengthened their promotion hopes - with a 28-12 win over Guisborough. …

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