KELLY’S EYE ON RUGBY: Durham aim for Twickenham

HANDSOME WIN: Richie Thirkell
HANDSOME WIN: Richie Thirkell

JUST one more win

Now, I am not a greedy Roy, unless of course it’s scran and it’s free.

If it is I will gladly get my nose in the trough with the best of them.

If it’s not free, I will sling it through on expenses.

Seriously, all I am after is a Durham win. By any margin.

Durham are just one win away from a return to Twickenham.

The side started their Billy Beaumont Cup campaign with a flourish on Saturday – a 37-13 win over Eastern Counties on a baking-hot day at Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk.

With only three teams in the section of the Second Division, it means the men in maroon ‘only’ have to beat East Midlands at Darlington on Saturday to reach the final, on Sunday June 1.

It is winner takes all after the Midlands outfit won the East battle on the opening weekend.

Durham, coached by Martin Pepper and Billingham boss Chris Hyndman, will go into the game at Blackwell Meadows not exactly short of confidence.

While the winners at Bury St Edmonds were modest enough to point out that the win over Eastern Counties was not as easy as it looked, the truth of the matter was that it could have been so much wider.

Durham won by the not insignificant margin of seven tries to one – had the goal-kicking been better the scoreline could have been much more handsome.

Talking of handsome, how nice that there were a number of local lads in the squad, including Horden hooker Richie Thirkell.

The powerhouse forward was joined in the pack by the athletic lock Paul Malcolm, who was outstanding in the club’s Durham Northumberland One title triumph.

And he had a dream debut when he got the first Durham try.

There was Hartlepool representation in the forwards – Thirkell and Malcolm’s former Horden marrer, Owen Bennett, who had a tremendous debut season at West, finishing it as their skipper, was among the subs.

On the subject of West, one of the club’s products and members, Gavin Painter, played his part in the victory.

Painter got his name into this very column a few weeks back after coming on as a sub in the Pyman Cup semi-final for some unknown reason.

But gifted Gavin has gone from a second teams cup tie to being on the verge of an appearance at Twickenham.

All leg-pulling aside over the Pyman, Kelly’s Eye is thrilled for the centre, who missed out on Darlington Mowden Park’s dramatic National League promotion-play-off success over Apthill at the Northern Echo Arena.

Gavin made a nice break on Saturday to set up one of the three tries for Mowden team-mate Ian Wilson.

While Painter and Wilson were among an army of DMP players – there were 10 in the 23 – it was good to see Billingham well represented.

Those of us who watched them beat favourites Westoe 42-22 in the Durham Senior Cup final could not have failed to be impressed by the brilliant rugby.

Peter Evens, Danny Finney, Anth Rumis and Danny Burns were all in the winning Durham, party.

How nice it was too to see some of the great and the good of Hartlepool and county rugby at Bury St Edmonds, notably JF Ainslie, JG Dove and Chris McLoughlin.

Messrs Ainslie and McLoughlin were prime movers in the Durham set-up the last time the county reached Twickenham, back in 1994. That ended in defeat to Yorkshire but it is 25 years since Durham triumphed at rugby HQ thanks to a dramatic 13-9 win over Cornwall.

How fitting would it be if the class of 2014 could mark the anniversary of that great occasion by doing it again?

Good luck lads.