Houghton found it was third time lucky as they held off Wallsend to record their first victory in Durham/Northumberland Division Two on Saturday.
A much-improved team performance saw them dominate large spells of the first half, but a strong comeback from Wallsend in the second half had Houghton holding on at the end to record a bonus point 45-35 victory
Houghton kicked off and immediately had Wallsend defending in their own 22. In the second minute, following a breakdown on the Wallsend five-metre line, the ball was played out left to Craig Hicks, who powered in to score in the corner. The lead was increased with a successful conversion from Dan Bearn.
Houghton extended their lead in the 16th minute when they Bearn added a penalty on the Wallsend 22.
The home pressure continued in the 18th minute when a surging 50-yard Mark Douglass run was only stopped metres from the try line. Following several phases of play, the ball was passed out to first-team debutant Marc Willey, who went on a weaving run to score under the posts, with Bearn converting for a 17-0 lead.
Houghton struck again in the 25th minute when winger Daniel Wolf picked up the ball on halfway and raced down the right, avoiding several challenges, to score under the posts. Bearn again converted.
Five minutes later, the Dairy Lane side sealed their try bonus point when, following a surging run into the Wallsend 22, Richard Lydiatt fed Glenn Atkinson to cross the line to score a fourth try, with Bearn converting.
Resolute defending kept Wallsend at bay in the remainder of the half, but the Tynesiders maintained their form in the second, getting on the scoresheet when a driving maul brought a score in the corner.
Houghton soon bagged a fifth try, when Douglass powered into the Wallsend 22 and laid the ball off to Willey to score his second try, with Bearn converting.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men in the 65th minute when Dan Turnbull was yellow-carded following an infringement on the five-metre line. Wallsend made the most of the man advantage, with a penalty try, after Houghton’s defence brought down another driving maul.
Wallsend’s new-found confidence had the Houghton defence on the back foot, especially when the hosts were down to 13 men, when Danny Bradley was sin-binned.
Wallsend again took full advantage and another driving maul got the score back to 38-21. They instantly grabbed another converted try, getting within seven points of the hosts, when the full-back launched an up and under which he ran onto and caught and then proceeded to run through the Houghton defence unchallenged.
Houghton were looking very nervous, but they responded well, forcing their way up to the Wallsend 22 and Douglass laying off to Atkinson to score. Bearn maintained his 100 per cent kicking record for the day to all but seal victory, though Wallsend had the last word, with another maul securing a try in the final seconds.