With the Grangefield pitches unplayable, Stocktonians put on a scintillating display of open rugby at a surprisingly mild Talbot Park when they took on a much larger Acklam Talbots side - who oddly opted for unopposed scrummaging from the start.
The game was only few minutes old when right winger Nigel Stevens was forced off the field with another hamstring injury - " the other one" this time ,to be replaced by Jack Gaddass.
There was no score for the opening quarter as both sides tried to run the ball and it was eventually a 35 metre penalty - no mean feat on a muddy pitch- from fly half Paul Underwood playing his first game in about 3 seasons - that broke the deadlock.
Then ,something almost as rare as an appearance of Halley's Comet- a Carl Tipton try as the left winger finished off a flowing backs move in the corner. No doubt the Under 9s will be fully regaled with the intracacies of the event .
Next to cross with the last play of the half was Paul Underwood who converted his own try to make it 15-0 to Stocktonians at half time- and still anyone's game really.
Just after half time Acklam lost a player to injury so Stocktonians sub Callum Steel came on into their backrow , and then when Acklam lost another player Stocktonians did not have anyone else to loan them but Skipper Mo Douthwaite evened the game up by persuading veteran No. 8 Derek Underwood he needed a rest !
Benefitting from their recent intense fitness sessions, Stockton then began to run in tries almost at will with winger Jack Gaddass ,scrum half Aiden Caldwell (2) Flanker Greg Russsell, Hooker Ross Doherty and Paul Underwood another 2 to complete his hattrick ( we are still awaiting the Jug) . Paul also converted four in the second half to make the final score 53-0 .
Many thanks to Joe Riddle for making the journey over the river to referee, and also to Acklam who played in a competeiteive but fair spirit all afternoon. We hope their injured players make a speedy recoveery.
Watching from the sideline this was one of the best Stocktonians' team performances in some time - everyone was capable of making ground with the ball and the tackling was tip top .There was structure to the play and a special mention of the centre partnership of Peter Blakey , back from a serious knee injury and Colts' hooker Jay Jackson who ran straight and hard and handled well in an unfamiliar position.
And next week Stocktonians are away at Billingham - so need everyone available and no repeat of this week when five confirmed players called off on the day of the game and three never even appeared !
Meanwhile the Saracens went to Bishop Auckland who had claimed a hard fought draw on their visit to Grangefield earlier in the seaon. In the first half the Saracens were by far the better team and racked up 20 points with tries through hooker Lewy Gray, threequarters James Burden and skipper Ben Costello, who converted one and slotted a penalty.
Then in the second half Stockton went to sleep and allowed Bishop back in the game but were still ahead by 20-15 at the final whistle . Next week Saracens are playing away at Medicals in a double header with the 1st XV
Updated 20:41 - 9 Dec 2017 by Terry Wilson