With a few changes in the squad in the absence of Scott Powell and Stephen Jones, Stockton took some time to settle against a hefty and well drilled Northern outfit. In the opening 20 mins the only score was a Jonny Horner penalty. However then Stockton lost Hooker Ben Cordiner with a foot injury causing a front row reshuffle and Steve Taylor taking responsibility for line out throws.
Northern then scored two quick tries: firstly with a driving line out and secondly with a chip ahead & gather after a kind bounce (which was converted) so they were leading 12-3 after 30 mins.
Stockton's fortunes took another turn for the worst when lock Johnny Cheetham was sin binned for allegedly coming from the side of another driving line out maul. A penalty try had been awarded so Stockton were now 19-3 down at half time.
Jonny Horner pulled another penalty back but then Northern broke away from a maul and scored with players in support.,
Not to be outdone front row forward Lewy Gray scored Stockton's first try with good support play to close the gap to 24-11. Them several missed Stockton tackles allowed Northern to touch down in the right hand corner : 29-11.
Once more Northern drove a line out over and at 34-11 on the hour mark Stockton looked dead and buried especially as Martin Dixon was sin binned for a high tackle .
What followed in the final quarter can only be compared to Muhammed Ali's " Rumble in the Jungle" against George Foreman as Stockton burst into life to run 26 unanswered points against a tiring Northern.
Hooker Ben Cordiner returned to the frayand then full back Jonny Horner sprinted 50 metres through the Northern defence and converted his own try: 34-18 to Northern.
Again Jonny Horner shredded the Northern defence to bring the score to 34 -23 and then debutant centre Danny White crashed over for Stockton's fourth try when we still had 14 men and with scrum Rob Green adding the conversion the score was 30-34. We had already secured a 4 try bonus point and if Northern did not score again- a losing bonus point.
Back to 15 men with Dixon returning Stockton threw everything at Northern for the last 5 minutes and eventually they cracked as Jonny Horner completed his hat trick and converted his own try with the final play of the game to make it Stockton 37 Northern 34 when Referee Simon Williams blew the final whistle .
What an exhilarating finish as Stockton fought back from a seemingly impossible position against a top ranking team.
Next week Stockton are away at Novos NE7 7SY
Meanwhile over at West Hartlepool our Saracens managed to take the scalp of West's 2nds team by 50-7 to prove that their big win last week against Billingham was not a fluke . We scored eight tries through No8 Devon Douthwaite, Flanker Liam Ryder, Centre Steve Thornton, winger Rob Graham (2) Scrum half Ciaran Flaherty Winger Connor Hutchinson and a penalty try. Fly half Rhys Cowley slotted 4 conversions.
Next week our Saracens host Hartlepool .
With 46 unavailable players throughout the club this week ,Stocktonians' Skipper Nick Robinson had to work hard to get a squad out - but eventually about 18 Stocktonians assembled to take on the might of Hartlepool Boys Brigade Old Boys 1st XV .
Whilst the team eventually succumbed their visitors slightly better fitness and organisation -as you would expect from a 1st XV-, the result was no disgrace as our lads went down 49-36 and all can be proud of their performances. Colin Waller scooted over for a try and the returning centre Tom Rowe managed the other 5 tries with conversions coming from Josh Barker Rayner, Aidan Caldwell and Tom himself.
Next week our Stocktonians are at Northallerton DL6 2PZ and we hope to have a few more players available