Durham relegated from rugby’s County Championship

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DURHAM’S stay in the top echelon of the County Championship is over after only one season.

Peter Taylor and Chris Hyndman’s team went down 20-5 in their must-win Billy Beaumont Cup Division One (North) clash against Yorkshire.

The loser of the county derby at Scarborough was always going to be condemned to the drop.

And after two close-run home defeats to Lancashire and Cheshire, Durham could not get close to the Tykes.

They were not helped by the loss of player-coach Chris Hyndman midway through the second half with a knee injury.

But Durham simply struggled to get any sort of good possession and in difficult and wet conditions, the well-drilled Yorkshire pack held sway.

Durham did have the first opportunity when one of their star performers Peter Evans put in a great kick, chase and tackle which led to Yorkshire being penalised. But Andrew Baggett put his 35-metre kick wide of the target.

Yorkshire had three penalties of their own, two of which they opted for shots at goal and the other occasion they tried a tap move, but none of their efforts produced points.

Durham’s defence had been impressive and when they moved up the other end on the half-hour mark they went close to the opening try.

Wharfedale’s former West prop Adam Howard forced his way over the home line but referee Rawson ruled that he had not grounded the ball and awarded a five-metre scrum.

But when Yorkshire’s front row were penalised for taking down the scrum, Baggett went wide.

Yorkshire stand-off Greg Wood though made it third time lucky when he put over a penalty to give the Tykes a 3-0 interval lead.

After the interval, Yorkshire made it 10-0 when they drove forward from a line-out for number eight Jones to touch down, Greg Wood converting.

And when Wood added his second penalty, the whites had a 13-0 lead with 25 minutes to go.

At this point, Durham lost Hyndman and then had Baggett yellow-carded, leaving them down to 14 men.

It allowed Yorkshire to retain their grip on the match and they clinched the points when Kerry Wood touched down from another catch and drive, Greg Wood adding the conversion.

Durham kept going until the end and a break by Blaydon’s former Stockton winger Tom Jeffrey set up a try for ex-Billingham youngster Elliot Husband.

Hyndman said Durham were disappointed to have gone down after one season in the top flight but admitted they did not get enough ball to trouble their hosts.

“It wasn’t a great game to be honest,” he said. “After the first two weeks of a lot of bright rugby and tries, this was a total turnaround.

“Both sides were a bit cagey and I think the teams cancelled each other out.

“We were not helped by the referee at scrums – he must have awarded 15 penalties or free-kicks against us.

“Yorkshire scored two pushover tries but elsewhere they did not look like breaking us down.

“What they did do well was keep the ball for long periods and when they had their chances, they took them.

“We were not helped by a lot of changes – I think we lost six or seven lads.

“That’s not saying anything against the lads who came in, they all did well, but it’s hard to come straight into a team and gel.

“But that wasn’t really our problem, we just didn’t see a lot of the ball. ”

Hyndman, meanwhile, is awaiting news on his damaged knee.

“It’s swollen and it doesn’t feel too good or look too pretty,” said the Billingham centre.

“It could be serious, but until the swelling goes down and I get it scanned, I honestly don’t know.”

Local lads Jonny Boatman (West) and Richie Thirkell (Horden) started for Durham while Andrew Dring (Rovers) was a sub.